Rugby League


It's time to lift as Choc tops the Sea Eagles' talent

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Everyone at the Canberra Raiders understands how crucial the next two weeks are to our season.

Our 3-5 record is nowhere near good enough given the high expectations we hold ourselves to.

As a senior player, you try and keep things positive and ensure players are focused on the job at hand.

But we're also realistic of where we are at and how much hard work we need to do to reach our goal of playing finals football.

The intensity and quality of our training sessions has picked up noticeably in the past few days.

There is a definite buzz around the place, something we badly need if we are going to match it with one of the form teams in the competition.


After a slow start to their title defence, the Manly Sea Eagles have hit their straps in recent weeks and are coming off a gritty win against the Bulldogs.

The fact the Sea Eagles were able to block out the pre-match hype about facing former coach Des Hasler for the first time shows the sort of quality the club exudes.

They boast an all star line-up across the park.

Brett Stewart is one of the most exciting players in the NRL, and his individual battle with our own NSW fullback contender Josh Dugan will be worth the price of admission alone.

Then there is Brett's brother Glenn, a dynamic second-rower who works tirelessly on the edges and can offload with the best of them.

But probably their biggest game-breaker is Anthony Watmough, a teammate of mine from the recent Test match win against New Zealand.

Choc had a blinder in the green and gold and is one of the most difficult players to defend.

He can run behind the ruck or charge through a gap and set up his outside men.

He is just as dangerous without the ball, putting on big shots in defence or sitting back and holding his line.

With that said, we will head up to Brookvale Oval believing we can repeat the feats of 2010 and cause a massive upset.

My strongest recollection from that stirring 24-22 victory was the urgency we showed.

Pushing up on plays, diving on loose balls - we played liked our lives depended on it.

We went to Sydney's northern beaches with a 5-10 record, but that result was the catalyst for us to win eight of our last nine and charge into the top eight.

It is unfortunate Michael Chee Kam, one of our outstanding Toyota Cup players, will join the Sea Eagles for the next three years.

I can understand a lot of fans feeling upset about a player of Mick's calibre leaving the club, but unfortunately it is part and parcel of the modern game.

The salary cap means clubs are unable to hang on to everyone they would like to and ensures a fair spread of talent.

Mick is a fantastic prospect and I wish him all the best for the rest of his career.

David Shillington plays prop for the Canberra Raiders