Rugby League


Backyard fun leads Raiders' new pitch for members

Thomas Grace has three things in common with Raiders star fullback Josh Dugan.

They can both proudly say they have represented the South Tuggeranong Knights; they are both childhood St George Illawarra Dragons fans; and both have played leading roles in Canberra Raiders' television commercials.

The 10-year-old halfback is one of several junior Canberra rugby league players who feature in the NRL club's membership advertisement unveiled on Monday.

In a step away from the serious campaigns of previous years, the latest edition focuses on a group of kids living out their dreams playing league in the backyard.

The unmistakable commentary of Ray ''Rabbits'' Warren calls the action as they recreate Sandor Earl's memorable try in the Raiders' semi-final win in front of a sold-out Canberra Stadium two months ago.

Grace plays the role of Earl, diving on the ball in the corner and giving a huge grin to the camera.


Grace said it took him between ''two and five takes'' and that when he told his friends they were somewhat sceptical that he had been chosen to be in the Raiders' membership commercial.

''It was pretty cool,'' he said. ''My friends didn't really believe me. I'm a St George fan, but I go for the Raiders second.''

Raiders centre and Goulburn junior Jarrod Croker believed the campaign would inspire more juniors from the region to go on and play for the Green Machine.

''It's pretty exciting, especially with the young kids getting involved,'' Croker said.

''I hope this helps kids realise playing in the NRL can happen to anyone.''

But who did Croker pretend to be when he was tearing around the house as a kid?

It turns out it wasn't a Raiders' legend from their famous premiership-winning teams, but an icon from an arch rival.

''It brings back a few memories, running around in the backyard pretending to be [NSW and Roosters legend] Freddie Fittler,'' Croker laughed.

''I was a bit of a Freddie die-hard.''