Rugby League

Canberra Raiders going against the tide in recruiting established representative players

The Canberra Raiders are going against the tide in attempting to recruit established representative players, with just 30 per cent of this year's crop falling into that category.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart speaks to the media.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart speaks to the media.  Photo: Getty Images

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart made the stunning admission that ''things ain't going to change'' unless his club can add at least two State of Origin stars or internationals to his current squad.

Out of the 60 players who have played for Australia, New Zealand, NSW or Queensland this year, 18 joined their current NRL club when they were already representative players.

Raiders fans haven't had much to cheer about in season 2014.
Raiders fans haven't had much to cheer about in season 2014. Photo: Melissa Adams

From the victorious NSW squad, Will Hopoate (Eels), Josh Dugan (Dragons), Michael Jennings (Roosters), Beau Scott (Knights), Greg Bird (Titans), Luke Lewis (Sharks) and Tony Williams (Bulldogs) made the switch after playing for either the Blues or the Kangaroos.

The same applies for the Queensland seven - Darius Boyd (Knights), Greg Inglis (Rabbitohs), Brent Tate (Cowboys), Jacob Lillyman (Warriors), Nate Myles (Titans), Ben Te'o (Rabbitohs) and Dave Taylor (Titans).

New Zealand quartet Dean Whare (Panthers), Gerard Beale (Dragons), Adam Blair (Tigers) and Greg Eastwood (Bulldogs) have had varying levels of success at their new clubs.

The Raiders have traditionally opted for developing their own juniors rather than major players on the open market.

They have taken a different approach this year under Stuart, making substantial bids for Kevin Proctor, Michael Ennis, Josh Mansour and James Tedesco before missing out on all four targets.

At the same time, Stuart has also blooded promising rookies Shannon Boyd, Mitch Cornish and Brenko Lee, while Paul Vaughan, Jack Wighton and Edrick Lee are all set to have bright futures.

The Raiders have signalled their interest in Manly fullback Brett Stewart and Broncos duo Josh Hoffman and Josh McGuire to add to their three confirmed signings - Josh Hodgson (Hull KR), Iosia Soliola (St Helens) and Sisa Waqa (Melbourne Storm).

Former Queensland State of Origin representative, and Fox Sports commentator, Ben Ikin said the Raiders' recent 18-10 loss to a Jarryd Hayne-inspired Parramatta showed Stuart's comments were on the mark.

"What's been missed is that he's given the core group of guys a wrap, saying there's some potential superstars there and effort's not an issue,'' Ikin said.

''The Raiders fought tooth and nail, defended hard and tough, and you just knew in the last 10 minutes Jarryd Hayne hadn't had his way with the game yet.

''That's what great players do, they come up with the big plays in the clutch moments to get their team home.

''That's why they're champions.

''What Ricky tried to convey on the weekend is that's what he's chasing.''

Stuart's extraordinary post-match diatribe came as the Raiders are in danger of collecting the wooden spoon for just the second time in the club's history and the first since 1982.

''It was the actions of a bloke who has battened down the hatches and knows he's got a fight on his hands,'' Ikin said.

''To be fair, some of the public scrutiny around Ricky would've sent blokes questioning whether they want to stay involved in the game.

''Right now, he's just steeling himself for what he knows is going to be a long, tough haul.''