Campo-less Raiders out to prove NRL point
It's deja vu for the third time running, but Canberra's Josh McCrone says he's ready to step up following a NRL season-ending injury to chief playmaker and Raiders linchpin Terry Campese.
The Raiders had their worst fears confirmed on Wednesday when scans revealed Campese had torn his ACL, forcing his second knee reconstruction in as many years and ruling him out for the rest of the 2012 season.
McCrone, who is likely to get the call-up at five-eighth with young Sam Williams brought in at halves for the home clash with Cronulla on Sunday week, said it was time for him and all of Canberra's senior players to lift a notch.
"Campo's a massive part of our team but I think the years before we had without him - we can take a few lessons out of that and a lot of the boys will know to step up.
"He's done so much work to get back playing some good football, so it's just pretty disappointing.
"We can't really take a trick with injuries."
Canberra coach David Furner has turned to McCrone twice before in Campese's absence - first at the start of last year as Campese recovered from his first reconstruction and again in mid-2011 when he injured his groin just minutes into his comeback game.
McCrone sees it as yet another chance to prove himself wearing the No.6 jumper.
"I'm looking forward to it - I can see a bit more ball again - so it's exciting for me."
It's been another horror run with injuries for the Raiders, who've lost Campese and Brett White for the season with ACL tears, while fullback Josh Dugan, Trevor Thurling and Shaun Fensom have all had long-term spells on the sidelines.
McCrone said the battle for consistency has only become tougher with Campese ruled out but maintained the Raiders were still in the hunt for the finals.
"Everyone's just got to be more consistent," he said.
"Even if you look at our first couple of months, fully as it was, it was loss, win, loss, win, loss, win, so it already wasn't good enough.
"We've got a good opportunity (next) Sunday to start winning and prove that we can without Campo on the field."
He defended the decision to play Campese during their 30-6 loss to Brisbane last weekend, with the skipper clearly struggling with his knee a week earlier against the Warriors.
"I've got absolute confidence in our medical staff," McCrone said.
"It was a freak accident like Whitey's. I don't think there was any drama with that - otherwise he wouldn't have played."
In what would be a major boost, the Raiders are counting on Dugan to make an early return from a shoulder injury against the Sharks, when they hope to claim their fourth win from eight games.
Brought to you by