Raiders are in the dark, too
Sam Williams and Josh McCrone served the Raiders well in 2012. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
I'm about to enter my ninth season of NRL and have learnt that, just like the fans, players talk.
You might hear someone say, 'How good's that player going - what's he on'? It tends to be said more as a joke than anything. It seems to be the Australian mentality that we don't associate our athletes with performance-enhancing drugs.
That's why the speculation about doping in the NRL is so shocking. If allegations of doping are proven, it would be bigger than anything the game's encountered before.
But until details come out it's only speculation. It's hard to pass judgment. That's the most frustrating part of it all as an NRL player, not knowing what the real story is.
It hasn't caused any disruption at all at the Raiders as far as the players go. I'd be bowled over if one of our players went down for anything like that.
When you train with teammates you see the hard work done around you, and the results. We've worked hard in the pre-season and that's why I can't wait for Sunday's game against Penrith. I'm excited about what we could achieve this year.
We've got a special squad and I don't want to waste this opportunity.
One of our goals is to start the season fast. We have a shocking habit of waiting until mid-year before making a late run for the finals.
Another bad habit we've shown since I've been in Canberra is that we seem to lift against the favourite teams and lose to teams we're expected to beat. We seem to switch off mentally.
Last year we started going into camp before home games to try to fix that, and we started winning.
But as a player you should be offended because it means your individual preparation isn't good enough. I hope we don't come to that this year. There will be more accountability.
The focus of the pre-season has been on defence. We're confident we have the natural attacking ability, but defence is all about attitude, getting into the right habits and making the correct decisions.
There have been many changes around the club, including the appointments of a new head trainer and two assistant coaches. Our trainer, Nigel Ashley-Jones, has us laughing non-stop. But when there's hard work to be done, it's all business.
Unfortunately we'll start the year without our captain, Terry Campese, but I know our younger halves, Sam Williams and Josh McCrone, really stepped up last year.
I'm sure with the help of our new assistant coaches, Brett Kimmorley and Andrew Dunemann, both halves themselves in their playing days, they'll rise to even greater heights.
David Shillington plays prop for the Raiders.