Mitch Cornish broke through for his NRL debut in 2014 and firmly put his case forward to be the club’s long term number seven after he guided the Green Machine to three straight victories to finish off the season.
After an illustrious junior representative career, Raiders fans had long awaited the day that they would see the prodigious talents of Mitch Cornish in the NRL.
Cornish was given time to showcase his wares throughout the trials and in the Auckland Nines, however Coach Ricky Stuart elected to partner Terry Campese with Jack Wighton in the halves to start the year.
As such, Cornish was forced to bide his time in the VB NSW Cup with Mounties.
The former Junior Kangaroos representative worked hard on his game with Mounties and proved to be one of the side’s best.
Through Cornish’s pin-point kicking game and creative ball-playing talents, he helped to consolidate Mounties in the top four of the VB NSW Cup.
After three consecutive losses, Stuart decided to switch Wighton back to the centres and partner Campese with the reliable Josh McCrone in the halves for the Round 11 clash with the North Queensland Cowboys at GIO Stadium.
He also selected Cornish on the interchange bench to make his NRL debut.
Canberra delivered a vastly improved performance against North Queensland which entailed that Cornish would not be blooded until the 57th minute. When he did enter the fray, a rapturous cheer went up from the Goulburn contingent that travelled down to watch their local junior play.
Cornish performed well in his 23 minutes off the field, playing a hand in a try to Anthony Milford in the 78th minute and engineering a line break for Jarrad Kennedy moments later. Whilst the two instances were only brief indicators of Cornish’s ability, they did enough to draw praise from arguably the game’s greatest ever halfback, Andrew Johns, who was calling the game for Channel 9.
The side went onto win 42-12 and Cornish would keep his place in the side for the next two weeks. Unfortunately Canberra lost the subsequent two fixtures to the Roosters and the Broncos and Cornish was relegated back to the VB NSW Cup.
Cornish took the disappointment in his stride and focused his energy on delivering his best for Mounties. The quality of Cornish’s performances resulted in the 21 year gaining selection at halfback in the VB NSW Cup Representative team which took on the Queensland Residents side before Game 3 of the State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium.
Following an abdominal injury to Campese and his subsequent demotion to the VB NSW Cup, Cornish was granted another opportunity in first grade from the interchange bench in Round 22 against the Parramatta Eels in Darwin.
He was again selected on the bench the following two weeks against the Dragons and the Sharks, but was granted the opportunity to start the match at halfback against the Wests Tigers in Round 25.
Cornish took the opportunity with both hands and led the side to victory, which he was again able to replicate against the Eels in the Green Machine’s final outing of the season in Round 26. The victoy over Parramatta was arguably Cornish’s best performance of his career to date.
After being eased into first grade by Stuart, Cornish looked comfortable directing the side around the park towards the end of the year and is well shaped to take a stranglehold of the club’s number seven jersey in 2015.
Cornish will have to put in a big pre-season effort though with the impending return of local junior Sam Williams from the Les Catalans Dragons. Williams return, coupled with the presence of Campese and McCrone, is certain to put increased pressure on the Cornish next year.
Average Minutes: 39
Try Assists: 2
Line Breaks: 0
Line Break Assists: 2
Tackle Breaks: 3
Average Metres: 25.9
Average Tackles: 8.4
Kick Metres: 36 kicks for 1220 metres