Canberra Raiders reintroduce under-20s
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Canberra Raiders reintroduce under-20s

New coach Ash Barnes says the Canberra Raiders are renowned for developing juniors and the re-birth of the club's under-20s creates a clear pathway to the NRL for them.

It also provides Barnes with a pathway to realise his dream of coaching at the elite level.

Barnes led the Woden Valley Rams to a drought-breaking premiership in the Canberra Raiders Cup this year, but was also working as an assistant coach with the Raiders 20s as well.

Woden Valley premiership coach Ash Barnes will coach the re-born Raiders under-20s.

Woden Valley premiership coach Ash Barnes will coach the re-born Raiders under-20s.Credit:Grant Trouville/NRL Imagery

They were playing under the Mounties banner in the Jersey Flegg Cup this year, but will be back playing as the Green Machine in 2019.

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Barnes will take the reins in a part-time capacity and will continue working as a teacher at Karabar High.

He said it would save a lot of travel for the players, who this year trained in Canberra during the week - with some Mounties players coming to the ACT for the captain's run on the Friday - before going to Sydney to play on the weekend.

It also means they'll play home games in Canberra - some as curtain raisers for the Raiders' NRL matches.

"The Raiders are really renowned for developing their juniors and coaches," Barnes said.

"I know they can see that clear path and being able to base ourselves out of Canberra where I'm sure [Raiders NRL coach Ricky Stuart] and the NRL coaching staff will probably be getting along and being able to observe more games ... it can only be a positive for the players."

The Rams will need to find a replacement for their premiership coach, who took over at Woden in 2015.

He has aspirations to coach at the highest level and he has proof at Raiders HQ there's a pathway for him - Brett White was the Raiders under-20s coach in 2017 before becoming an assistant to Stuart.

"It's always one of those things. Players want to go to the highest level and for me I want to continue to work on myself as a coach and get better every single year," Barnes said.

"If I work hard and do the right things you never know where you can take it."

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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