Rugby League


Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart on watch for a new captain

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart says he's "watching daily" as he assesses who he appoints as the club's new captain in 2015.

Stuart said he was happy outgoing skipper Terry Campese would get the opportunity to finish his career "the way he deserves", the 30-year-old veteran released to sign a one-year deal with UK Super League club the Hull Kingston Rovers.

It leaves Stuart to find a new skipper, a role filled by Campese since 2012.

Stuart brought in a new leadership group last year, titled Club 82, in honour of the foundation Raiders season.

It comprised Campese, Brett White, who has since retired, Josh McCrone and Shaun Fensom. With those players out injured, or out of form, centre Jarrod Croker stepped into the captaincy role at the end of 2014.

Stuart said he would make a decision on the captain in the new year.


"I've been conscious of the fact of having to find a new club captain," Stuart said. "I'm watching daily in regards to who's going to have the leadership qualities to be the club's next captain because it's a very important job and there's a lot of young people we have at this club, so they need direction."

Stuart dropped an out-of-form Campese for the final five games last season, but hoped the veteran five-eighth could kick on strongly in the Super League.

"I'm really happy he's got the opportunity to continue his career, he's always served the club very well ... hopefully he finds some stability and longevity in England and finishes off his career there the way he deserves to."

Campese has stated a desire to potentially return to the Raiders after his playing career in an off-field position.

"The door's always open for players who've served the club," Stuart said. "My idea for this club is to keep building it, having good people involved with our football program."

Former Raiders skipper Alan Tongue said Fensom and Croker were the immediate captaincy contenders that came to his mind, but he also raised the idea of co-captaincy.

Campese was eased into the captaincy role by sharing it with Tongue during the 2011 season.

"It's a lot to take on as a young guy when you have the captaincy ful-time and I think it was a nice way to ease Campo into it," Tongue said.

"That's why I think if it is with a couple of the younger guys coming through, if you can look at co-captaincy then one person isn't heaped with that pressure."

Tongue said the Raiders might also consider a fresh approach with an incoming recruit as captain, citing the potential of 28-year-old Iosia Soliola who has just returned to the NRL after a premiership-winning season with St Helens in the Super League. 

"A couple of the new recruits might impress Ricky and put their hands up too. I know there's a lot of good reports about Sia Soliola and the influence he's had."