Rugby League


Josh McCrone ready to lead Canberra Raiders out of NRL slump

Josh McCrone admits he felt ''helpless'' sitting on the bench during Canberra's recent losses, and is enthusiastic about his return to the starting halves for Sunday's game against Penrith.

Having been groomed to play hooker in the pre-season, McCrone will reunite with captain Terry Campese in the halves.

"Being on the bench has been the hardest adjustment, not playing the 80 minutes and feeling helpless,'' McCrone said. 

"You're sitting on the sideline for 50 minutes, the last couple of weeks it's been tough coming on and trying to chase a lead. 

"I'm looking forward to getting out there from the kick-off."

Off-contract after this season, the move back to halfback gives McCrone the best possible chance to audition for a new deal. 


It also allows Jack Wighton to shift from five-eighth to his preferred position of centre.

McCrone is excited about reuniting on the right side with Wighton and back-rower Josh Papalii, who needs a big game against Penrith to retain his Queensland Origin jersey. 

"It's good to team up with Papa again, we had a pretty good combination,'' McCrone said. "When we trained together on Wednesday we were like kids in a candy shop, we're real excited to be back together.''

While McCrone's running game will help ease the pressure on key playmaker Terry Campese, McCrone believes it also lifts a weight off Wighton's shoulders. 

"For me it's about playing squarer and taking the ball to the line, and try and create some space for the outside men, because we do have good finishers,'' he said.

"I think the centres will be good for Jack. He'll enjoy his time out there and get his confidence back. He's done a fantastic job, it's his first crack at it [five-eighth] in nine games in first grade. I've played 100 and it took me about 80 to get comfortable there.''

McCrone was wary of making bold statements, aware the players' words were meaningless before 54-18 and 54-12 road losses to the Sea Eagles and Warriors. 

"We're pretty mindful of not promising anything, because we've realised the last couple of weeks our words have meant nothing,'' McCrone said. "It's more about getting out there on Sunday, and showing it with our actions.''