Rugby League

Canberra Raiders half Mitch Cornish desperate for second NRL chance

Departing Canberra Raider Mitch Cornish will get a farewell game against the side he could join next year after a season-ending injury to Blake Austin paved the way for hia recall for Sunday's match at Parramatta. 

Departing Raiders player Mitch Cornish hasonly played six games of first grade this year.
Departing Raiders player Mitch Cornish hasonly played six games of first grade this year. Photo: Jay Cronan

It is understood Cornish has been offered a one-year deal by the Eels to provide cover in the halves for Corey Norman and Kieran Foran. 

His selection for the final round clash gives him a golden chance to impress Eels coach Brad Arthur in person and press his claims for an NRL lifeline. 

Raiders halfback Mitch Cornish has attracted interest from Parramatta and Wakefield in the UK.
Raiders halfback Mitch Cornish has attracted interest from Parramatta and Wakefield in the UK.  Photo: Jay Cronan

Cornish began the year as coach Ricky Stuart's first choice no.7 but was dumped after four games in favour of Sam Williams, whom he will partner this weekend.

He has managed just two games since, when Williams was injured, and the writing was on the wall for the Junior Kangaroo when the Raiders signed Gold Coast playmaker Aidan Sezer on a three-year deal. 

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The 22-year-old has also attracted interest from English Super League clubs, headed by Wakefield, but he said after Monday night's win over Penrith he's determined to prove himself in the NRL. 

"It's kind of sad but I've got great memories here, and I'll never forget them," he said. 

"It's just one of those things. It's unfortunate but a lot of players have gone and come back, you never know what the future holds. 

"My main goal is to stay in the NRL so hopefully [I can].

"I just need a chance and if I could stay in the NRL, it'd be great."

Cornish is confident his best football is still in front of him and should he land at Parramatta, playing alongside an experienced five-eighth in Foran it could take some weight off his shoulders. 

"I guess I just needed to mature more [playing NRL early this season]," he said. 

"I was young, I still am young, and trying to lead a side around is not the easiest thing to do. 

"Sammy has a lot more experience and is older, to his credit he's taken it with both hands."

In other team changes Sisa Waqa moves from wing to fullback to replace Jack Wighton, who has accepted a one-match ban for a careless high tackle on Jamie Soward, with Jordan Rapana returning from suspension on the wing. 

Fellow departing Raider Mark Nicholls is closing in on a two year deal with Melbourne, and will become the second Canberra prop in as many years to join the Storm after Tom Learoyd-Lahrs did so last year. 

Nicholls is keen to establish himself as a regular first grader after playing just 19 NRL games since his debut in late 2012. 

"One chapter ends and another one opens, I'm looking forward to moving on and hopefully it works out for the best," he said. 

"I'm obviously disappointed with the amount of NRL I've played here over the years, I was looking for a fresh change."

The Raiders are looking for props to sign for next year with former representative player David Shillington to also depart for Gold Coast Titans next year. 

Nicholls said he had discussed the Melbourne option with former Storm and Raiders prop Brett White, now Canberra's forwards coach, and Glenn Turner and Troy Thompson, who have also played for both clubs. 

"I'm talking to Melbourne obviously and hopefully we'll get that sorted in the near future," Nicholls said. 

"The incentive to move down there is he [Storm coach Craig Bellamy] has a proven track record [developing forwards] and the side's been successful the last few years. 

"Troy Thompson, Glenn Turner and Whitey have all been down there, they all told me to take the opportunity if it comes along."