Rugby League


McCrone ready to do the job

Raiders playmaker Josh McCrone insists he and rookie halves partner Sam Williams haven't been given an ultimatum to perform or perish as the club looks to prove it's not a one-man band.

Canberra's finals chances have been written off by many after Terry Campese's season-ending knee injury, given the side's struggles without its skipper last year.

The next few weeks are crucial for McCrone and Williams to show they're the right halves combination to steer the Raiders for the rest of the season.

They played 18 matches together last year with mixed success, and the Raiders will be under pressure to try other options should they fail to fire immediately.

Star fullback Josh Dugan, a big chance to make his return from injury tomorrow against Cronulla, played plenty of five-eighth in juniors. During his month-long absence Reece Robinson has been a revelation in the No.1 jersey, giving Canberra the option of gambling on Dugan in the halves.

Boom youngster Jack Wighton has played on the wing in his debut NRL season, but the 19-year-old is rated as potentially the Raiders' next long-term pivot.


Canberra has a 3-4 record after seven games and faces a pivotal fortnight against the red-hot Sharks tomorrow and reigning premier Manly at Brookvale next week. But McCrone said coach David Furner had placed his full confidence in him and Williams building on the platform they set last season.

''He [Furner] wouldn't put any extra pressure on either of us, it's not what he's about,'' McCrone said.

''We're pretty confident the way we started to combine at the back end of last year that we can continue to play good footy.

''There's plenty of [halves] options there but I think it's best just to get the team going and the combination will look after itself I suppose.''

However, the 25-year-old conceded Dugan had the ability to excel as a playmaker should Furner take the punt.

''I think he's an awesome fullback and I have no doubt he'd be a good five-eighth,'' McCrone said.

''But at the moment myself and Sammy are there, so hopefully we can do the job.

''Duges's kicking game is going to be enormous for us I think, it's no secret Campo's our main kicker and he'll be a big help there.''

The Raiders yesterday unveiled the special Anzac strip they will wear against Cronulla to help raise money for Legacy, an initiative that's prompted messages of support from Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith.

The squad will also be addressed by Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie before the match, and Christchurch-born debutant Matt McIlwrick will receive his jersey from New Zealand High Commissioner Martyn Dunne.