Sia Soliola committed to building Canberra Raiders' future

Sia Soliola committed to building Canberra Raiders' future

Canberra Raiders spiritual leader Sia Soliola has reaffirmed his commitment to the Green Machine as the club builds a roster its hopes can end a premiership drought.

Soliola has been linked to the Newcastle Knights, which would see him forge a new partnership with Nathan Brown - the mentor he won a Super League title under before arriving in the Australian capital.

Sia Soliola wants to wear lime green.

Sia Soliola wants to wear lime green.

The 31-year-old admits he can see why people think Newcastle would be a logical move but his priority is discussions with the Raiders ahead of their clash with Cronulla at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart says the club won't try to compete with big money offers from rival clubs because he wants players to be in Canberra for "all the right reasons".


That description fits Soliola to a tee, with the former New Zealand and Samoan international a highly regarded figure at Raiders headquarters.

"I’d love to, I’d definitely love to [play again next year]," Soliola said.


"It’s still a work in progress, but I’m pretty confident something will get sorted soon. It’s one of those things. I guess I see why people can see that link but my first and foremost is chats with the Raiders.

"We’re talking at the moment and I’m pretty sure something will get sorted soon. Hundred per cent [a stable roster leads to success].

"It’s just one of those things, if you have good people around the joint, in whatever industry it might be, if you keep the good core group then all that time and experience, you don’t have to go back to square one with a lot of it.

"You know who you are dealing with, and you’re constantly building on the same connections that you’ve got. That’s what Ricky is talking about, you’re working with the same guys, you know your strengths and weaknesses.

"It’s all about just moving in one direction without too many distractions. That’s what Ricky is talking about. It would be nice if we could keep a good core group here with the boys but we’ll wait and see."

While the club is desperate to shore up high-profile talent following the retention of Luke Bateman, the Raiders are resigned to losing Junior Paulo to the Parramatta Eels on a mammoth four-year deal worth almost $3 million.

Paulo is facing eight to 10 weeks out of action with a mid-foot sprain, with the hulking prop unable to rest his 123 kilogram frame on his injured foot.

Paulo's fellow prop Shannon Boyd has been linked to the Gold Coast on a deal worth more than $650,000 per season but he says he can "hopefully" stay in Canberra, while rivals are showing interest in Josh Papalii.

Throw in Soliola's link to Newcastle and the Green Machine could be staring at a massive shift in their forward stocks next season, but for now the veteran wants to make the most of what they have.

"It’s pretty tough. I’ve got to give credit to all the guys that do it. It’s a job to be done and I will just fill in for the boys wherever I can," Soliola said.

"It’s pretty solid, it’s really worked out for us because then we’ve got a big body on the bench with Boydy. Having Papa smashing out some really big minutes and working with Junior, it’s been awesome. It’s been a big thing for the club at the moment.

"We saw what Boydy did in that second half [against the Gold Coast], he just terrorises people. That’s what we want to do, we just want to maintain that intensity around the middle and I think we’re coming to grips with it all."


Sunday: Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks at Canberra Stadium, 4.10pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (c), 4. Joseph Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Iosia Soliola, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Joseph Tapine, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Josh Papalii. Interchange from: 14. Ata Hingano, 15. Luke Bateman, 16. Charlie Gubb, 17. Dunamis Lui, 18. Liam Knight, 19. Michael Oldfield, 20. Craig Garvey, 21. Jack Murchie.

Sharks: 1. Valentine Holmes, 2. Sosaia Feki, 3. Jesse Ramien, 4. Ricky Leutele, 5. Edrick Lee, 6. Matt Moylan, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Jayden Brailey, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Kurt Capewell, 12. Jayson Bukuya, 13. Paul Gallen (c). Interchange from: 14. Joseph Paulo, 15. James Segeyaro, 16. Avagalu Seumanufagai, 17. Jack Williams, 18. Kurt Dillion, 19. Braden Uele, 20. Briton Nikora, 21. Kyle Flanagan.

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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