Josh McCrone re-signs with Canberra Raiders

Josh McCrone re-signs with Canberra Raiders

Canberra Raiders playmaker Josh McCrone is adamant the club can be rebuilt into a premiership contender, adding the team will use the presence of Green Machine greats to break its form slump on Friday.

McCrone also said winning would solve the Raiders' recruitment pain following James Tedesco's backflip, declaring coach Ricky Stuart is building a new culture that will pay dividends in the future.

Josh McCrone at Raiders training on Monday. He has signed with the club for the next two seasons,

Josh McCrone at Raiders training on Monday. He has signed with the club for the next two seasons,

Photo: Melissa Adams

McCrone signed a new two-year deal with the Raiders on Monday and will stay in Canberra until at least the end of the 2016 season.

The 27-year-old is competing with rising star Mitch Cornish for the Raiders' halfback spot and insists he's happy with a positional rotation in which he switches to hooker in games.

The Raiders are aiming to restore pride in the jersey when they play the Canterbury Bulldogs at Canberra Stadium this week, a match that doubles as a 20-year anniversary of the club's last premiership in 1994.


Rival State-of-Origin coaches Laurie Daley and Mal Meninga will be in the stands alongside Raiders greats Ken Nagas, Steve Walters, Jason Croker and Tim Sheens, and McCrone said it was the perfect platform to break a two-match losing run.

The Raiders have won only four of their 13 games this season.

"It's an honour to play in front of them, it's the history you keep hearing about. These are blokes who built the club, we don't want to disappoint them," McCrone said.

"They made the club be a powerhouse for 10 years, it would be nice to be a part of rebuilding that. I think we're heading in the right direction with the culture we're building now."

McCrone joins a host of Raiders re-commiting to the club and showing faith in Canberra's future.

Stuart is still keen to recruit players, despite the Raiders missing out on luring Tedesco, Josh Mansour, Kevin Proctor and Michael Ennis to the capital.

Tedesco agreed to join the Raiders, but backflipped on his deal to stay with the Wests Tigers.

McCrone said the players were unfazed by the Tedesco saga and his only preference was to stay in Canberra despite being linked to the Melbourne Storm.

"We don't read too much into [Tedesco] ... we're the ones who are here now and we're the ones who have to get us out of this slump," McCrone said.

"It doesn't matter who [the Raiders] buy for next year, it's not going to help us right now.

"It's a bit of a catch-22, once start winning and build the culture, [players] will want to come. But hopefully once we've got it built we won't need anyone. It's chicken or the egg stuff."

The Raiders are 14th on the ladder and desperate to beat the Bulldogs at home. They've won just two of their six games at Canberra Stadium this season.

Stuart will inject some new blood to cover the loss of representative back-rower Josh Papalii while Anthony Milford and Jack Wighton will be riding high after training with the respective Queensland and NSW Origin teams last week.

The Raiders are in danger of missing the finals in back-to-back years for the first time since 1985-86.

McCrone made his NRL debut in 2009 and has been sharing the halfback duties with former Australian junior No. 7 Cornish.

McCrone started the season as a hooker but has since moved back into the halves with captain Terry Campese.

"I didn't really enjoy getting dribs and drabs of game time at the start of the year," McCrone said.

"I'm the fittest I've ever been so ... I've got the best opportunity to rotate [positions in a game] now than I ever have. Mitch has been pretty impressive, there's a bit more pressure there but that's healthy for the club.

"We need more people pushing for first-grade spots. We've had a massive change in the culture, we're all fitter and leaner but it's not converting into results yet. I'm pretty confident we can really be cracking it."

Chris Dutton

Chris Dutton is a sports reporter at The Canberra Times.

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