Season Review: Josh McCrone
For the fourth successive year, Josh McCrone played in every single match for the Raiders and played his heart out in each fixture.
After securing the halfback role on a full-time basis in 2010, a year after his debut for the Raiders, McCrone was poised for a positional switch to hooker in 2015 under incoming Coach Ricky Stuart.
Stuart began the season with Terry Campese and Jack Wighton as his first choice halves pairing however he was adamant that he wanted McCrone to be a part of his top 17.
With Glen Buttriss chosen as the starting hooker, Stuart planned to utilise McCrone’s attacking spark out of dummy half and his tenacious defence from the interchange bench in the latter stages of each half.
McCrone adapted to the change in position well and provided the side with a noticeable boost each time he was injected onto the field.
The Temora Dragons junior’s electric speed off the mark and smart kicking and passing game ignited the side’s play from dummy half, whilst his supreme fitness came to the fore with the added workload that comes with defending in the centre of the field.
This did not go unnoticed by representative selectors and Country Origin Coach Trent Barrett selected McCrone on the interchange bench for the third successive year.
McCrone is extremely passionate about the Raiders and this is portrayed through the enthusiasm with which he plays the game and the pain and exhaustion expressed on his face when the side is defeated.
Due to this, his leadership on and off the field and his form in his new position, Stuart offered the 27 year old a two year contract extension, keeping him in the lime green until the end of 2016.
“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,” McCrone 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.”
“Josh has played over 100 NRL matches for the Raiders and is one of the team's most consistent performers,” added CEO Don Furner.
“He can play in the halves or at hooker and we see his role as an important one for the Raiders over the next two seasons.”
Just as he was settling into his new role, McCrone was called upon to revert back to his regular position of halfback in Round 10 after two heavy losses to the Manly Sea Eagles and the New Zealand Warriors in consecutive weeks.
Stuart’s decision to return McCrone to the number seven jersey was because of two reasons; the first was to provide the side with more direction, communication and leadership and the second was to allow the supreme natural talents of Wighton to flourish out wide after he had mixed results in handling the responsibility of being one of the side’s on-field generals.
McCrone’s calming presence in the halves and the direction and communication he subsequently provides was evidenced against the in-form Penrith Panthers in his first game at halfback in 2014.
After back-to-back lopsided score lines, Canberra were much more competitive against Penrith, going down by just six points.
A week later, with McCrone retained at halfback, the Raiders registered one of their best wins of the year, a 42-12 thrashing of the North Queensland Cowboys in front of a receptive home crowd.
McCrone remained an integral member of the side for the rest of the season and registered the second most line break assists and second highest metres gained through kicks.
Towards the end of the season McCrone was again shifted back to the hooking role due to the emergence of young Mitch Cornish.
Whilst McCrone remains an option for Stuart in the halves in 2015, his efforts over the course of this season also proved that he can be a valuable asset to the side out of dummy half.
Looking towards next year, McCrone is in line to accomplish 150 NRL games for the Raiders and continue to assist in leading the club's resurgence.
Off the field, McCrone remains an exemplary role model in the community and to the younger members of the squad.
Average Minutes: 60
Try Assists: 7
Try Saves: 3
Line Breaks: 3
Line Break Assists: 7
Tackle Breaks: 23
Average Metres: 31.8
Average Tackles: 20.3
Kick Metres: 99 kicks for 2539 metres