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The Canberra Raiders question: What's wrong with the Green Machine?


Sticking point: Playing under Ricky Stuart does not have the same attraction it used to for players.

Sticking point: Playing under Ricky Stuart does not have the same attraction it used to for players. Photo: Melissa Adams

1. The round 13 rule is really a last right of refusal for clubs

When Wests Tigers were initially negotiating to keep James Tedesco, the Raiders weren't the only club they were competing with but once he agreed to terms with the Raiders it effectively became a two-horse race for his services. The Tigers did not improve their offer but they knew the value of Canberra's deal and were able to convince him that he would have at least two opportunities to make that money back through future contracts if he continued to live up to his potential. In addition, Tedesco was reluctant to leave the club after coming through the junior ranks with the likes of Luke Brooks and Curtis Sironen. "We haven't offered him any more money than we already had, but we made a point of not bagging him when he signed for Canberra, hoping he may still stay," Tigers chief executive Grant Mayer said.

No thanks: Josh Mansour of the Panthers rejected a move to the Raiders.

No thanks: Josh Mansour of the Panthers rejected a move to the Raiders. Photo: Melissa Adams

2. Do the Raiders need a living away from home allowance to attract players?

Canberra has struggled to attract players since entering the premiership in 1982 and focused in the early days of its existence on recruiting the likes of Mal Meninga, Steve Walters, Peter Jackson, Gary Belcher and Sam Backo from the Brisbane competition. Raiders patron John McIntyre believes the club should be able to offer players an AFL-style living away from home allowance, like Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney Giants. "Twenty-five years ago, I made submissions for concessions in the cap for developing our own juniors," McIntyre said. "Not at any stage are we talking about our locally produced players getting anything other than market value." 

3. TPAs are hard to come by in the ACT

Reneged: James Tedesco.

Reneged: James Tedesco. Photo: Getty Images

Canberra may be Australia's capital but it has far more government departments than businesses, making it difficult for Raiders players to secure third-party agreement deals. As a result, Canberra was unable to compete with the Broncos for the services of star fullback Anthony Milford and will continue to lose players to rival clubs in bigger cities, including many of the top junior talent they have developed. The Raiders also seem to have more than their share of off-field issues – star players who quickly become big fish in a small pond – and have sacked the likes of Todd Carney, Joel Monaghan, Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson in recent seasons. 

4. It's been a long time since the glory days of the Green Machine

The last of Canberra's three grand final wins was 20 years ago and for much of the past two decades the club has seemed to be in a constant rebuilding phase. Since the formation of the NRL in 1998, the Raiders have managed to qualify for the finals every second season but have never been considered genuine premiership contenders. That prolonged lack of success has been one reason some of the club's recruitment targets have not wanted to move to Canberra.Meninga, Matthew Elliott, Neil Henry and David Furner have all had varying degrees of success with Raiders teams they have coached but none have been able to get the best out of the talent in Canberra.

Troubled times: Ricky Stuart.

Troubled times: Ricky Stuart. Photo: Karleen Minney

5. Ricky Stuart is no longer a lure for players

While it is merely coincidence thatTedesco is the fourth player in the past two seasons to get cold feet after signing to play under Ricky Stuart, there is no doubt the former Australian and NSW mentor needs to coach winning teams before players want to start playing under him enough to move to Canberra. Kevin Proctor also had a late change of mind about joining the Raiders, while Josh Papalli and Gareth Hock backed out of deals with Stuart to join Parramatta, and big name targets such as Greg Bird, James Tamou and Matt Scott also rejected his overtures. Since returning to the NRL coaching ranks last season, Stuart has overseen just nine wins from 36 matches in charge of the Eels and Raiders.

6. Canberra's desperation is inflating the player market

Teammates were telling Tedesco last week that the additional $500,000 he stood to earn in Canberra over the next three years was too good to refuse and McIntyre admits the Raiders have always had to pay about 20 per cent more to poach or retain star players. "Market value has a completely different value when everyone wants to live along the beach," McIntyre said. As a result, Melbourne and Penrith have respectively had to pay over the odds to keep Proctor and NSW Origin wing contender Josh Mansour after both received lucrative offers from the Raiders.

with Adrian Proszenko

Hits and misses: Stuart’s recent strike rate attracting talent


Greg Bird: One of Stuart’s first targets at Parramatta but decided against a move to the Eels and signed a four-year deal with the Titans.

James Tamou: After forging a relationship in Blues camp with Stuart, Tamou turned down an offer to join him at Parramatta.

Matt Scott: Turned down a $2million offer from the Eels to remain at the Cowboys early last season.

Israel Folau: Was forced to sign with the NSW Waratahs after ARLC refused to register Folau’s contract with the Eels.

Peter Wallace: Rejected interest from the Eels to return to Penrith after a lengthy stint with the Broncos.

Gareth Hock: Reneged on a two-year deal with the Eels to take up a contract with Salford in the English Super League.

Josh Papalii: Reneged on a three-year deal with the Eels to remain at the Raiders, linking with  Stuart in 2014.

Robbie Farah: Knocked back huge interest from Stuart and the Eels to remain loyal to the Wests Tigers.

Kevin Proctor: Having agreed to a deal with the Raiders for next season, Proctor had a change of heart at the 11th hour.

James Tedesco: Having signed a $2 million deal to join the Raiders, Tedesco reneged on the deal to remain at the Tigers.

Michael Ennis: Rejected a lucrative offer from the Raiders for 2015 to explore other options for next year.

Josh Mansour: Rejected a three-year deal from the Raiders for 2015 after Panthers tabled a revised offer to keep him.

Anthony Milford: Decided to take up contract with Brisbane despite Stuart’s best efforts to get him to renege on the deal.


Corey Norman: Was playing Queensland Cup after falling out of favour at the Broncos. Has performed well for the Eels.

Nathan Peats: Was playing mostly NSW Cup given limited minutes at South Sydney. Played strongly this season before it was cut short by a serious knee injury.

Lee Mossop: Was playing in the English Super League but is yet to play an NRL game due to injury. He has been named on the bench to make his first-grade debut in the clash with North Queensland at Pirtek Stadium. 

52 comments so far

  • In all honesty, who the hell would wish to live there in and around Canberra...stinking hot with Millions of Bushflies to keep you entertained in Summer then Freezing Cold conditions to train in during the Football Season...The place closes at 11pm and is a Ghost town on weekends..Even a 3 hour drive each way to have a surf at the nearest beach.....YEAH, I'd be knocking down the door to the Museums to live there also....THATS WHY PLAYERS BAIL OUT OF THERE FOR CIVILISATION.

    Date and time
    June 05, 2014, 9:29PM
    • Totally agree. I remember once arriving in Canberra at 2pm on a Saturday and the place was a ghost town. I can't beleive how lifeless our capitall city is.

      Date and time
      June 06, 2014, 8:59AM
    • Mike. Let's see...

      1. "Millions of bushfires"... really? Is that turning players off? the threat of bushfires? Sydney doesn't have bushfires?

      2. "The place closes at 11pm"? Whilst that statement is incorrect... aside from perhaps Mitchell Pearce, what does a professional athlete need after 11 o'clock at night, other than sleep?

      3. "is a Ghost town on weekends" Whilst that statement is also incorrect... ummmm, I think NRL players are supposed to be playing football on the weekend?

      4. "a 3 hour drive each way to have a surf at the nearest beach". umm, Wrong again. It is less than 2 hours to the coast from Canberra (about the same time from Western Sydney to Bondi in Sydney's Saturday traffic - not that 99% of people even go to the beach in Sydney!)

      5. I concede the Canberra winter is cold, but "freezing cold conditions to train in"? - cry me a river, princess. Jeez these NRL types are soft!

      Just another typical Canberra basher - heavy on with criticism, light on with reality. And, you obviously have never lived there.

      If a 24 hour nightlife is most important for these guys, as you seem to think, then perhaps they should not be playing NRL at all (except maybe at The Roosters).

      Date and time
      June 06, 2014, 9:07AM
    • closes at 11pm? 3 hour drive to the coast? Have you ever even been to Canberra?

      Date and time
      June 06, 2014, 9:13AM
    • Civilisation:
      A McDonalds on every corner and a car yard on every other.
      Surfing in untreated sewage.
      Rubbish pick up days make the whole city look like a garbage tip particularly the Eastern suburbs.
      Cockroaches the size of rats.
      Rats the size of cats.
      Night life looking out for meth heads and coward punches.

      Yep, give me civilisation any day.

      Brain dead
      Date and time
      June 06, 2014, 9:33AM
    • I think you're tripping Mike. I'm 27 years old, much like NRL players in their prime. It's two hours to the snow, less than two hours to the gorgeous south coast and under three hours to Sydney. Friday, Saturday nights ghost town? Where are you looking/going? Plenty to do and plenty of women to court in the city, Kingston & Manuka. The main thing I agree with in this article is about players becoming a big fish in a small pond - it's gets to their heads however one can only handle this by their own maturity and professionalism. I would love to play for the Raiders and become a sporting socialite earning half a million a year and having women hang off my arms in the best years of my life! Canberra is a great city and growing ever so fast, it will hit 500,000 people very quickly.

      Date and time
      June 06, 2014, 9:45AM
    • Phil - appreciate the spirited defence, but you're living in a fantasy world. I have lived in the Can for eight years, and I don't mind it here. BUT if I was your typical footballer trying to choose between Bondi and Bruce - even if Bruce was offering extra coin - well, that's not a hard choice.
      There's a reason that Canberra has a reputation as cold and boring. The fact that Canberra Stadium is one of the worst designed in the comp doesn't help either. Add in the ridiculous cost of living here, thanks to all the overpaid public servants, and the Raiders is the last place I would want to play.

      Date and time
      June 06, 2014, 9:49AM
    • Don't blame Canberra or it's weather. There were no problems attracting good players during the Green Machine era, the Brumbies have great players going there to further their career.
      The unique factor the Raiders have against them is Ricky. His only coaching success was with a great squad handed to him at Easts, since then he has proved himself a habitual loser and most importantly, too self-interested and hypocritical, when he first lashes out at players for disloyalty then walks on a contract.

      Date and time
      June 06, 2014, 9:50AM
    • Canberra has a great climate to train in. As a young man you look at the Brindabella's at sunset with the snow clouds just over the horizon and you want to train hard, dream dreams and change your life. As for 'Ghost town', people don't get it. Canberra people work harder to get together in their homes, at their weekend sport, the clubs and shared interests or go to the South Coast or into the mountains. They are not in the CBD on weekend because they are out doing better stuff. They are not here to keep tourists amused.Living in Canberra is great because the people are generally more sophisticated, more informed and appreciative of the friend's and opportunities to enjoy life that they have got.

      But if you like traffic congestion or want to hang out at some drinking barn or tavern on weekends or line up for your nightclubs with a crowd of morons then Canberra my not be your thing.

      Date and time
      June 06, 2014, 10:00AM
    • I do live in Canberra, Phil. Mike's comments are not far from the mark. Also he said bush flies, not fires.

      "If a 24 hour nightlife is most important for these guys, as you seem to think, then perhaps they should not be playing NRL at all (except maybe at The Roosters)"
      Perhaps guys in their young 20s have slightly different priorities in life to you. Strangely enough, the Roosters do not have any of the Raiders' troubles when it comes to signing new talent or retaining players.

      Date and time
      June 06, 2014, 10:01AM

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NEW 18vs CBY 20 Stats
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