Fever building for Raiders home final
Raiders supporter Mick Lennon lines up for tickets to Sunday's elimination final against the Cronulla Sharks at Canberra Stadium. Photo: Jay Cronan
Excitement is already building in anticipation of the Raiders' Sunday elimination final against the Cronulla Sharks at Canberra Stadium.
At 11.45am this morning about 30 fans were queued outside Ticketek in the city, to get their hands on tickets to game with plenty of time to spare. Ticketed members were able to purchase passes from 10am this morning.
It's a far cry from the frustration expressed by fans just over a month ago when the team, struggling with consistency issues, were booed by supporters during a home game against the Gold Coast.
Raiders supporters line up for tickets at Ticketek in the CBD. Photo: Jay Cronan
Meantime - "if it ain't broke, stay in a hotel" is fast becoming the Canberra Raiders motto. The team will again check-in to the Rydges Eagle Hawk Resort, in the lead-up to the club's biggest game since the 2010 finals.
But injured captain Terry Campese is unsure whether he'll be part of the Raiders' sleepover.
Campese, who is recovering from a knee reconstruction, represented the club at the NRL finals series launch in Sydney yesterday.
He chatted to Sharks skipper Paul Gallen – but football wasn't on the agenda, preferring to keep the banter light-hearted ahead of Sunday's do-or-die game.
His injury took some of the gloss off being part of the finals launch.
"It would've been much better if I was playing this week, but not to be, it's just exciting times for the club to be playing this time of year," Campese told The Canberra Times.
Raiders chief executive Don Furner confirmed the team would continue its unusual home-game ritual of staying at Eagle Hawk – something that has worked for the team in its stunning run to the NRL finals.
"They don't want to change a good thing and they've gotten into a routine now ... sometimes people get superstitious or they don't want to break [a winning formula], at the end of the day they're keen to keep that routine," Furner said.
The Toyota Cup team will also play their final against the New Zealand Warriors as the curtain raiser on Sunday.
Canberra's junior competitions have been sent into a finals frenzy as well, with some of the Canberra Region Junior Rugby League preliminary finals clashing with the Raiders Sharks game.
Executive officer Karen Ebsworth will re-schedule the under-14 zone 1 and both under-15 games to ensure everyone involved has the opportunity to get out to Canberra Stadium.
She was hoping to switch the games from Northbourne Oval on Sunday afternoon to West Belconnen in the morning, with the exact times finalised this afternoon
"We're trying to give everyone the opportunity to support the Raiders because the rugby league community are obviously the people who really are keen on the Raiders and we don't want to deprive anybody the opportunity to go and watch them," Ebsworth said.
Tickets for Raiders and Sharks ticketed members went on sale this morning, with long lines reported in Civic already.
Non-ticketed members and NRL members can purchase their tickets tonight from 8pm, while the general public gets its first chance tomorrow morning from 10am.
Canberra Stadium is working on extra buses for what will hopefully be a sell-out crowd.
NRL ELIMINATION FINAL
Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks
At Canberra Stadium, Sunday 4pm
Tickets available through Ticketek
Adults from $20, concession $18, 4-15-year-olds $15, families $60