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As a Raiders fan, our golden era is a time not likely to be repeated any time soon and this has become evident as Raiders management are set to offer current coach Matt Elliott a one year extension on his deal that expires at the end of the 2006 season long before the first round of the 2006 season.
Sound absurd to you? Thought so! Glad I'm not alone.
Long before a ball has been kicked in anger for season 2006, the Raiders are planning to offer an extension to a coach that led the team to 14th place on the premiership ladder after regressing from fourth in 2003, to eighth in 2004 to a whisker off the wooden spoon in 2005.
Like any job, your tenure and value should be evaluated upon your performance and be results driven. So why would a club sign a coach for next season when they have no inclination as to how the side will perform this season? It sure is a remarkable leap of faith and one that would have Matt Elliott grinning from ear to ear. If only we could all secure a job under those circumstances
I think re-signing Elliott so early can only be a bad thing for the team as there is no pressure to perform and get the best out of the coach if the comfort zone has been established well before the start of the season.
It is no surprise to see the captain come out and applaud the potential appointment but you would expect any captain of any team to put a positive spin to give the perception of stability within the ranks. By the way, I am in no way suggesting there is disharmony in Canberra, merely pointing out Clinton Schifcofske is doing what all captains do, and that is not rock the proverbial boat.
If Raiders management were fair dinkum and I have my doubts if they are, they would keep their cards close to their chest and wait until at least mid season to see how the results have gone and if any new talent has emerged to replace the aging veterans who are the band aid solution for the Raiders to keep themselves out of the premiership cellar.
This move has to be questioned by the fans and one wonders if the club really has the success of the football team as its main priority or are they interested in acquiring more leagues clubs to keep the poker machine cash cow ticking over?
The Raiders are equal favourites with South Sydney for the wooden spoon and have a bare cupboard when it comes to depth and elite talent with many players looking for the door over the past three seasons and yet we are continually told we are close to the limit on our salary cap and we are the only club willing to offer misfits from other clubs (Willie Manu, Jamie Lyon, Lance Thompson) a contract but yet none are yet to put pen to paper and likely never will.
The moves to re-sign Elliott so early in the piece reeks of desparation and part of this can be put down to the Raiders geographical disadvantage of not being close to Sydney, a small town and a place that is bitterly cold in winter. This is the perception among players and it rings true when you consider Canberra rarely receive a free to air match on television and viewed by all fans as boring and unimaginative with a negative style of play.
When you consider Ricky Stuart, Tim Sheens, Brian Smith and John Lang are all off contract at the conclusion of this season and as all coaches have either won a premiership or at the very least, appeared in a grand final in the past five years, you would think it prudent of Raiders management to at least speak with other potential candidates, especially hometown coach Ricky Stuart who knows the club an what it takes to return the Raiders to the winners circle.
Personally, I think Stuart would relish the challenge of moulding the Raiders into a cohesive football side with skill on both sides of the ball and get them to play with the high intensity and ferocity the Roosters defence has been renowned for over the past four seasons under Stuart.
Even though Brian Smith has an unenviable record in grand finals, he has the wherewithal to mould players into quality footballers and have them produce consistent, high quality football for 26 weeks at least. We saw the results with Tim Smith and Ben Smith last season and apart from the melt down against the Cowboys, he had the Eels finish the regular season as minor premiers with a team that was not expected by many to challenge for the top eight, let alone the premiership.
Tim Sheens has already left his legacy in Canberra and would be at long odds to return to the club considering he has nothing to prove in Canberra.
I doubt John Lang would come and is still riding the high on his success from 2003 and may view Newcastle as a more attractive option should the opportunity arise.
I have nothing against Matt Elliott and if he has the Raiders firing on all cylinders and are in the finals mix come mid-season, then a contract renewal/upgrade is in order and I will be the first to congratulate the club for its shrewd business acumen in securing one of the best coaches in the NRL.
While we wait for a decision, I'm going to go and ask my employer for a raise on projects I am yet to start and hope they see their way clear to offer me a significant pay rise regardless of my performance.
I'll let you know how I go!