Cornish eyes starting halfback role
After finishing his debut year with three consecutive wins and the number seven jersey firmly planted on his back, rising star Mitch Cornish is striving to don the hotly contested jersey on a full-time basis in 2015.
Cornish was eased into the first grade arena in 2014, with Coach Ricky Stuart, undoubtedly the Raiders greatest halfback, wary of rushing the prodigiously talented youngster ahead of his time.
The 21 year old began the year with Mounties and led the side to the top of the VB NSW Cup ladder before making his debut off the interchange bench against the North Queensland Cowboys at GIO Stadium in Round 11.
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 was recalled to the NRL line-up in Round 21 and would keep his place for the remainder of the season.
After six appearances off the bench with precious little opportunities to showcase his full potential, Cornish was able to start the final two games at halfback play the full 80 minutes. The result of his two opportunities to start were two wins for the Green Machine.
Now, Cornish wants the starting role full-time.
"Last season was a massive confidence boost for me and my number one goal moving into next year is to get the number one halfback spot and keep it for the whole year," Cornish said.
"I knew I had to bide my time this season. Personally, I knew that I had a bit of work to do on before I stepped up to first grade and it was good to do that with Mounties.
"Ricky was really good about it too; we spoke often and I appreciate how he eased me into first grade."
Despite his strong finish to the year, Cornish is far from guaranteed the starting halfback role in 2015, especially with the return of Country Origin representative Sam Williams.
"There’s a lot of competition here and no spot is guaranteed so I’ve got to put my head down and work hard.
"I'll be competiting for the spot with Sammy but t’s good to have him back, he’s a good mate.
"We always pair up in the wrestling because we’re fairly even so that’s good fun. I made his nose bleed the other day but it was an accident I swear," laughed Cornish.
Cornish and Williams were the stand-out halfbacks of their age groups with the pair both representing the Junior Kangaroos.
With the promising duo both looking to take the next steps in their careers, they unashamedly admit that they are supremely fortunate to personally learn off one of the game's greatest ever halfbacks, Mr Ricky Stuart.
"It’s awesome learning off Ricky, especially being a halfback, I'm very lucky," Cornish said. "Every time that you get to spend quality one-on-one time with him you take so much away. He’s just so smart about the game and his knowledge is incredible so you take everything that you can in and then go away and practice it.
"We haven’t really spoken about the plans for next season but he just wants me to stay confident and continue to work hard on my game."