Canberra Raiders v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Friday at 7:30pm at GIO Stadium Canberra
With many of the greatest names to have ever donned the famous lime green jersey looking on in the stands, the Raiders 2014 outfit will look to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Grand Final in style this Friday with a win over their counterparts from that triumph, the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs.
To celebrate the occasion, members from both 1994 Grand Final sides have been invited to a reunion dinner at GIO Stadium Canberra on the night of the clash with the Bulldogs.
“It's going to be an honour to play in front of them,” Josh McCrone said. “It's the history you keep hearing about. These are blokes who built the club into an absolute powerhouse for 10 years and we don't want to disappoint them.”
“It’s a big deal for me to be playing in a match celebrating the anniversary of the 1994 Grand Final win,” added Dane Tilse. “This club has such a proud tradition and rich culture and the players are very aware of this. Having all those ex-players watching on in the stands will give us all a massive lift.”
After trouncing the Cowboys at GIO Stadium Canberra in Round 11 the Raiders have suffered back-to-back losses however the Captain Terry Campese believes that the bye came at a good time for his side and allowed his troops to freshen up after a tough couple of weeks.
“The bye allowed us a chance to freshen up and recover and we’re ready to knuckle down and get our season back on track now,” Campese said.
It won’t be an easy task though with the Raiders set to face a sixth placed Bulldogs side looking to bounce back from three consecutive losses.
Canterbury have lost fullback Sam Perrett and promising prop forward David Klemmer to injury whilst the availability of halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson is determined by how well they recover from Game Two of the State of Origin series.
“I suppose this is the best time to play them given their injuries and their halves backing up injuries but we’re under no illusions that we’ve got to really work hard to earn these two points,” Campese continued.
“We can’t afford to concentrate on who could potentially be in or out for the Bulldogs,” McCrone added. “Canterbury is sitting in sixth place on the ladder and their forward pack is up there with the best in the competition. Our focus has got to be on ourselves.”
On that note, let’s take a look at the changes for the Green Machine.
A couple of forced changes have been made by Stuart in the forwards with Foster and O’Donnell in for Papalii and Edwards, who are both sidelined with injury, whilst Allwood returns to the backline in place of Robinson.
Josh McCrone v Trent Hodkinson
McCrone received an injection of confidence throughout the week after the club re-signed the talented playmaker for a further two seasons.
“I’m pleased to have my future secure here in Canberra and I look forward to building on the new culture that Ricky Stuart has started here in Canberra,” he said. “A number of great players have re-signed so far this year and I believe we have a team who can improve and become a finals contender.”
McCrone will go head to head with NSW Blues halfback Trent Hodkinson on Friday night however working in the Country Origin representative’s favour is the fact that Hodkinson will be backing up from State of Origin Game 2 on Wednesday night.
The Temora Dragons junior is passionate about the Raiders rich history and will look to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Grand Final in style with many of his idols looking on in the stands.
Glen Buttriss v Michael Ennis
Buttriss will be out with a point to prove on Friday night when he goes head to head with the hooker that the Raiders pursued for next year, Michael Ennis.
Despite Stuart assuring Buttriss that he remained a part of his plans for the future, Buttriss will be determined to prove to his coach that he deserves the number nine jersey in 2015.
Buttriss averages over 30 tackles per game and his clean, crisp passing from dummy half ensures that his forwards and halves are able to play with time and momentum.
Ennis took on a more dominant playmaking role in the Bulldogs’ loss to the Eels last week due to the absence of Reynolds and Hodkinson and he may well be forced to do so again against the Raiders. If so, look for the Green Machine to rush the 30 year old with a quickened line speed in defence.
Jarrad Kennedy v Tony Williams
After his best season in the NRL to date, Kennedy will confront one of his toughest individual tasks this year when he tackles the man mountain that is Tony Williams.
And Williams will be fired up too after being dumped from the NSW Origin team.
“He’s an incredibly powerful ball runner and I’ll have my work cut out for me but I’m confident I can handle the challenge especially with the quality of defenders inside and outside of me,” Kennedy said.
Bulldogs Coach Des Hasler will no doubt task Williams to run at Campese all day so Kennedy’s efforts in defence will be pivotal for victory for the Green Machine.
Last 3 results:
- Canterbury defeated Canberra 28-16 at GIO Stadium Canberra in Round 23 2013
- Canberra defeated Canterbury 34-6 at GIO Stadium Canberra in Round 25 2012
- Canterbury defeated Canberra 36-22 at ANZ Stadium in Round 26 2011
Record against the Bulldogs:
In a total of 60 games against the Bulldogs, the Raiders have registered 26 wins and 34 losses.
Bulldogs record at GIO Stadium Canberra:
In a total of 20 games played at GIO Stadium Canberra, the Broncos have won just 8 games and lost on 12 occasions.
They said it:
Terry Campese: It’s the last Grand Final that the club has won and we had so many terrific players who I idolised growing up in Queanbeyan so the memory definitely sticks out for me. Hopefully we can get as many fans as possible out to GIO Stadium to celebrate the occasion. The players here are all proud of the club’s rich history and it will be a good opportunity to celebrate the past as well as build for the future.
Mitch Cornish: I’m looking forward to the game against the Bulldogs to celebrate the anniversary of the club’s last Grand Final win. It will be a real buzz running out and knowing all those past greats will be watching on in the stands. Hopefully I will be speaking to them after a win over the Bulldogs, just like we did in the Grand Final.”
Josh McCrone: “I couldn’t be prouder to re-sign with the Green Machine and I’m excited to be a part of the club’s future.”