The Raiders 1994 Grand Final triumph over the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs, in which the Green Machine defeated the Minor Premiers 36-12 to send legendary captain Mal Meninga out a winner, will go down as one of the proudest moments in the club’s rich history.
To help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Grand Final, the Raiders have invited all members of both sides to a dinner this Friday for the Round 15 match against the Bulldogs at GIO Stadium Canberra.
In the lead up the clash, Raiders media caught up with players, members and historians from that era to re-tell their memories from that fine day.
First up is electrifying winger Ken Nagas.
Nagas debuted in 1990 and went onto play his entire career with the Raiders, retiring in 2002 after 142 games which netted him 59 entertaining tries.
Two of those tries came in the 1994 Grand Final which heavily assisted in allowing the Raiders to farewell Nagas’ mentor, Meninga, with Grand Final glory.
1994 was a massive year for Nagas. At just 20 years of age, the lightning quick flyer scored 11 tries in 18 games, many of which were spectacular long range efforts. Nagas made his State of Origin debut for New South Wales in Game 2 and kept his place for Game 3 in which the Blues wrapped up the series.
The highlight though according to Nagas was the Grand Final win. Let’s hear it from the man himself..
“The year in itself was close to a blur. Because I was so young, I didn’t really think too much into it at the time, I was just taking it week by week and it wasn’t really until after the Grand Final that I reflected on how big a year it was for me.
The 94 Grand Final was a standout in my career; the win, Mal’s last game and scoring a couple of tries…what a dream for a young fella.
I was lucky enough to make my NSW debut earlier that year but I would have to say that playing in the Grand Final was a greater experience for me because I didn’t really offer a lot for the Blues because I came off the bench in both games and didn’t really have a lot of game time.
I was nervous leading into the Grand Final being so young but that early try off a great pass by Paul Osborne really calmed my nerves. Ozzie was a late inclusion after John Lomax was suspended and he had a great game. There was nothing planned, it was just off the cuff and that’s the way we played sometimes. I haven’t seen Ozzie for a long time but he definitely stretched that story out for a number of years after the Grand Final. He was saying to Dave Furner that he should have got the Clive Churchill Medal!
You always dream about going out a winner like that and although I never did, to see someone like Mal go out the way he did and to have played a part in it is always a special memory for me. I was happy to have played a small part in his farewell.
The anniversary celebrations on Friday night should be great and I honestly hope most of the players come. I’m lucky that I still live in Queanbeyan and still am connected to the Raiders [as Assistant Coach the NYC side] but it will be great to catch up with some old faces, including the Bulldogs players. I’m not a sledger so I might leave that up to people like Steve Walters and Sticky but I’ll be sure to have a beer with them and catch up on those times."
These days, Nagas works as an Indigenous Liasons Officer with the Australian Federal Police as well as his role as Assistant Coach of the Raiders NYC side.
"It’s great to be involved with the club and assisting the juniors coming through. Not all of them will go through, but hopefully some of them will be a part of the next Raiders’ Grand Final winning team.”