Rugby League

Raiders hold no bitterness after Waerea-Hargreaves contract deadline expires

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart insists there's "no negativity or sour grapes" toward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, adamant the club needs to get on with business after the Roosters prop failed to meet a deadline to respond to their lucrative contract offer. 

The Raiders were keen to sign the New Zealand enforcer to bolster their front row from 2016 onward after the retirement of Brett White, and the 25-year-old twice visited the capital with his fiancee earlier this month. 

The Raiders have taken a contract offer for Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves off the table.
The Raiders have taken a contract offer for Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves off the table.  Photo: Matt King

"The communication and negotiation process was great. We had Jared down and his fiancee, but we just needed to make a decision quickly," Stuart said. 

"We needed to move on and Jared is very comfortable with that, his management is very comfortable with that. 

"There's no negativity or sour grapes, Jared fully understands the position we're in."

The Raiders have plenty of room to move in their salary cap following the release of skipper Terry Campese to Hull KR next year.

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Canberra also aggressively chased Melbourne back-rower Kevin Proctor and West Tigers fullback James Tedesco, with both opting to remain at their current clubs. 

Stuart declined to elaborate when asked if other marquee targets were in his sights. 

"I'm just targetting the season now. We've got 2015 just around the corner, making sure our preparation is done precisely is important," he said. 

Raiders prop Dane Tilse said the club only wanted players who are fully committed to helping it rebuild after it finished second-last on the NRL ladder last season. 

"I suppose it's probably better for me, to be honest," he joked. 

"We want guys that want to be here and if that [withdrawing the offer] is what the club's chosen to, it's a good thing."

Tilse and Stuart were at the Raiders' spiritual home of Queanbeyan's Seiffert Oval on Monday to promote the trial match there against Newcastle on February 21. 

About $1.1 million of government and council funding has been devoted to bringing the dated facility up to scratch, including a playing surface upgrade, new irrigation system, electronic scoreboard, replacement grandstand seating and amenities. 

Work is on schedule to be finished by mid-February, in time for the trial which the Raiders hope will attract a crowd of about 10,000. 

Tilse's father Mick played 11 first-grade games for the Raiders in their inaugural 1982 season when Seiffert Oval was their home base. 

"Dad has a lot of good memories from here and back in the day they used to pack it out, hopefully we can do that for the trial against the Knights," Tilse said. 

"I'm sure he'll come down for the game and really enjoy seeing me playing here in the green."

Queanbeyan mayor Tim Overall said he hoped the facility upgrades would result in it hosting a Raiders premiership match in the future. 

"Absolutely. Of course that's up to the Raiders, but we'll certainly be pushing for that," Overall said. 

"We know they've got constraints, but maybe it could be scheduled one day with full TV coverage."

Stuart said the trial was part of his goal to drum the history of the club into the current squad. 

"I think it's very important for the players to understand our history and what's gone before them," Stuart said. 

"To be able to come back here and play will be part of that, our history is something I want the players to know more about.

"It just brings back so many great memories. This is where I started, this is where the club started."