Wing Contenders

Positions on the flanks for the Raiders this season will be as hotly contested as ever before, with a number of candidates keen to stick their hands up for one of the Raiders wing positions.

Edrick Lee

Lee was on the verge of a breakout season in 2013 before a broken arm saw him miss the remainder of the year after the round 13 win against the Broncos.

The highlight of a superb nine games of the 2013 season came against the Warriors at Canberra Stadium in round six where he scored two tries, including the match winner when he climbed high above the pack to clutch onto a Terry Campese cross field kick.

Lee gives the Raiders the aerial target they have need to attack the left hand edge of the field, with Lee’s height and reach giving him an advantage over smaller opponents.

With a big off-season in the bag Lee will be one of the leading contenders for a spot on the wing in 2014, but will look to eye a shift into the centres if given the opportunity.

Reece Robinson

Although his preferred position is fullback, ‘Reece Lightning’ has shown in the past what a huge part of the team he can be playing on the wing and he’s has a wonderful strike rate when it comes to scoring tries on the outside.

Robinson is a genuine finisher who knows how to find the try line and his ability to play on either side of the field will give Ricky Stuart and experienced finisher to add to what is a young and energetic backline.

The talented Robinson also give the Raiders some durability in the outside backs, as he’s been able to play 46 out of a possible 48 matches over the past two seasons, making him one of the teams most consistent performers over this period.

With a different game plan under new Coach Ricky Stuart the dynamic Robinson could be an X-Factor the Raiders need in 2014.

Jack Wighton

Easily adaptable to the centres as well as the wing, Wighton was the Raiders Mr Fix-it in the backline during the 2013 season, until he was also cut down with injury in round 18 when he suffered a broken leg against the Bulldogs at Canberra Stadium.

Wighton gives the Raiders grunt an aggression in defence as well as spark and flair in attack, with the young gun sharing wing and centre on both sides of the field in 2013 during his 18 appearances.

His selection in the Country Origin team at centre came as a surprise to those outside of the Raiders organisation, however his team mates were not shocked when he received the call up from selectors to make his representative debut.

NSW Coach Laurie Daley has already earmarked him as a potential Blues player of the future and his versatility in the backline could see him get the NSW call-up ahead of time.

For now Wighton will look to get himself back on the field and confident after the leg injury ended his season prematurely in 2013 and show Raiders faithful why he is one of the most exciting prospects in the club for a number of seasons.

Bill Tupou

Arriving in Canberra mid-season in 2013, Tupou didn’t have much time to gel with the team before being thrust into the Raiders NRL team through injury and suspension.

He showed glimpses of his talents in his three apperances for the Raiders late in the season, however the team’s fortunes at this period of the season limited the impact Tupou could make on the scoreboard.

With a full pre-season under his belt and more time to adapt to the way his inside men play the game, Tupou will be eager to push his claims in the trial matches and show why he was regarded so highly as a New Zealand junior.

At 23, Tupou is still earning his trade as an NRL Player and will be looking to take any opportunity he has with both hands.

Sami Sauiluma

Sauiluma had a hard road to start his NRL career in 2013, with road losses to the Tigers and Rabbitohs taking the gloss off his NRL debut performances.

Despite being on the wrong end of the scoreboard in both of these matches, Sauiluma showed enough promise to retain his place in the team the following week and he repaid the faith shown in him, scoring a try in his first home game as a Canberra Raider in a 26-18 win over the Cowboys.

Sauiluma’s strength is his running game, with the powerfully built winger possessing good speed out of dummy half and a fearless kick return.

Sauiluma is one player who will benefit from the pre-season conditioning and he’s been working hard on getting his fitness levels and speed up over the summer months.

Jordan Rapana

Rapana didn’t get the opportunity to play for the Raiders in 2013, but his form for Mounties in the NSW Cup paved the way for him to gain selection in the Cook Island s squad in the World Cup, where he played alongside Raiders team mate Sam Mataora.

After two years out of rugby league due to a Mormon Mission and a brief flirtation with Rugby Union, Rapana is back in rugby league and eager to press a claim for selection for the Raiders in 2014.

Rapana possesses good  speed and skill and his finishing qualities make him a handy proposition for Ricky Stuart to select for the Raiders top flight team.

Jeremy Hawkins

One of the most exciting prospects to graduate from the NYC in 2013, Hawkins comes into the NRL squad with a full pre-season after battling hamstring injuries for the Raiders juniors last year.

Despite his run of injury during the season Hawkins still remained one of the pivotal players for the Raiders juniors as they made their way to the top of the minor premiership and he also played a big part in the team’s final series.

A strong and powerful runner of the football, Hawkins also has the alertness and instinct required to make it at NRL level and he’ll be itching to get an opportunity in the Raiders backline.