Rugby League


Campo can transform Canberra: Monaghan

FORMER Raiders centre Joel Monaghan has backed mate Terry Campese to transform Canberra into a top-four NRL team next season, admitting it would be a dream to finish his own career back with the Green Machine.

Monaghan has resurrected his career in the English Super League since he was forced to quit the Raiders in 2010, when an infamous Mad Monday photograph became public.

Monaghan enjoyed great success this year by winning the Challenge Cup with his brother Michael at the Warrington Wolves, before falling to Leeds in the Super League grand final.

The former NSW Origin and Australian representative also has high expectations for the Raiders next season, claiming a fit Campese can be the X-factor that propels Canberra into the top four.

Campese has played only eight games in the past two seasons for the Raiders, cursed by a series of injuries.

''Looking at the quality of this team, with [Campese] back in there, they could do anything,'' Monaghan, back in Canberra for the summer, said.


''They put it together for the last part of the season and they ended up storming into the top eight. With Campo back in there I don't think there's any stopping them.

''We talk once a week on Skype and I'm godfather to his daughter and, as a mate, it honestly hurts to see what he's gone through in the last couple of years.

''He's got the desire to come back and be the best again, I wouldn't bet against him.''

Monaghan admitted his own burning desire to return to the Raiders.

There was speculation earlier this year that Monaghan had been seeking a return to the NRL, with reports the Raiders and the Cronulla Sharks had been sounded out.

Monaghan said he was committed to the remaining two years of his contract at Warrington, but the 30-year-old would not rule out an unlikely homecoming to Canberra beyond that.

''There's times where you're tempted,'' Monaghan said. ''I'm in a good team over there, I'm settled, but you watch the games and watch Canberra and they're doing well and it gives you that urge.

''I always said I wouldn't come back unless it was to Canberra and, to be honest, I can't see that happening. They've got a great young side, they're going well and I love watching them.

''There would be a burning, you obviously look at players like Shaun Berrigan who have come back [from England to the Raiders] at 33 … if I had a year here to finish my career it would be a dream. Obviously there's a lot of things to happen between now and then, so who knows.

''The success they had at the end of last year was a buzz for me. I was telling my family I get more angry when the Raiders lose than we do. I've still got that passion for the club.''

Monaghan will spend eight weeks in Australia this summer, with Warrington again planning a pre-season campaign here.