From the Stands is a weekly column written from the point of view of a Raiders member.
How good is it! After an off-season as long as a Siberian winter, the Raiders finally get the chance to take to the field for round one against the Cowboys this weekend.
I for one am absolutely pumped for this one and I’ve drank four litres of Raiders Lime Milk this week in anticipation of the season ahead. I’m not even going to talk about last year because as far as I’m concerned its old news, rather I thought I’d take time to talk about why Raiders fans should be excited about 2014.
First up is Ricky Stuart. I know he’s copped a fair bit from angry Parra fans about leaving last season, but for Raiders fans they should be stoked that a former club legend has returned to help get his favourite team back on top of the table.
I met Ricky at a members function a few weeks ago and you can hear the passion in his voice when he talks about the Raiders and I know he’ll have them fit and firing for the first match against the Cowboys this weekend.
The next thing I’m excited about is Jack Wighton. For those keen fans who have watched him develop through the Raiders lower grades you will remember him playing in the number six jersey more often than not. He’s a genuine playmaker and will become a great asset for our team. I’m not expecting him to win man of the match Saturday or the Dally M medal this year, but you heard it here first, this guy will be a superstar of the game! His defence is spot on, he is aggressive in everything he does on the field and he has the skill and talent to set up players around him. Quite simply, he’s a gun!
Terry Campese. From all reports Campo is in great condition and ready to take the field this year at 100 per cent for the first time in a few years. We all remember just how good Campo can be when he’s in top form and if he stays on the park for the full season I think we’ll see him back to his best. His kicking game direction around the field and leadership are essential for this young team and I wish him all the best.
Josh McCrone. A full pre-season at hooker could see Macca become the x-factor for this team this year. Glen Buttriss will start the game at hooker on Saturday night, but the impact from the bench that McCrone will bring is what I’m excited to see. If he finds a home at hooker he could give us the type of player who can bust a game open when teams are tired.
Our front row. Too old and too slow are words I’ve heard from some critics so far this off-season, but when I saw the team named for Saturday I was very excited to see what we had named to take on the Cowboys. Dane Tilse and Brett White will give us the defence we need early against the likes of James Tamou and Matt Scott, and then we have Paul Vaughan and the first gamer Shannon Boys coming from the bench.
Both Vaughan and Boyd used to tear teams apart in the under 20’s and if they can mature into the same sort of players at NRL level the sky is the limit, maybe even the sky blue!
So get excited Raiders fans, buy a membership, put on your jersey and get ready for the roller coaster ride that is an NRL season. Looking forward to seeing you in the stands at home in a few weeks.