JArrod Croker embraces JAck Wighton after Wighton scored a try  : Digital Image by Robb Cox ©nrlphotos.com: :NRL Rugby League - Wests Tigers V Canberra Raiders at Leichhardt Oval. Sunday April 19th 2015.

Any team that ranks in the top echelon of attacking teams in the NRL must possess dazzling attacking talents in the backline and the Canberra Raiders were no exception in 2015.

The Raiders were lauded far and wide as one of the most exciting teams in the competition this year due to the confident, free-spirited and enterprising attacking play demonstrated by the side’s personnel, particularly in the backline.

Statistically, the Raiders finished the season as the third best attacking team in the competition behind the North Queensland Cowboys and the Sydney Roosters, having scored the third highest amount of tries in the NRL.

“I’m really happy with how our team has adopted to the style and the shape of our attack because it gave us plenty of opportunities to win games this year,” Ricky Stuart said.

In the outside backs, the Raiders are bristling with the try scoring and line breaking talents of Jack Wighton, Jarrod Croker, Edrick Lee, Sisa Waqa, and Jordan Rapana, whilst also listing the mid-season acquisition of wrecking ball centre Joseph Leilua.

Wighton enjoyed his best ever season in the NRL and was awarded the Coaches Award at the Meninga Medal as a result. The Orange CYMS junior’s fantastic form in the number one jersey in 2015 conveys that he will fill the position at the Raiders for a very long time.

With that stability in mind, the aforementioned five outside backs will battle it out for the four remaining positions in the backline in the coming seasons ensuring that there will be plenty of competition for spots, which bodes well for a positive club culture according to Stuart.

Orchestrating the side’s play was the cool head of Sam Williams whose tactical kicking game and game management belies his years. On the back of Williams’ tactical nous and organisational ability, Austin enjoyed his best ever season in the NRL.

The dashing pivot scored 14 entertaining tries and broken the line on 16 occasions in 2015. Austin was the side’s leading try scorer, and altogether the Raiders backline as a unit has scored 66% of the side’s total tries.

Whilst Stuart lauds his backline’s attacking ability, he is also quick to assert that they need to amend their at time defensive frailty in 2016.

“Attacking wise we are lucky to have such exciting players throughout the backline however our outside backs have got to be better defensively because that’s where we conceded the most tries this year,” he said.

The icing on the cake for the Raiders backline of course is the superb goal kicking of Captain Jarrod Croker, who was the also the competition’s leading point scorer in 2015.

Croker scored 12 tries and slotted 94 conversions from 111 attempts for a success rate of 85%.

“It’s a great asset to have a goal kicker who’s kicking at 80-90 percent – I never, ever take it for granted,” Stuart said.

The depth of the Raiders backline was very strong in 2015 which was evidenced by the potency of Mounties backline in the VB NSW Cup.

Unfortunately, the likes of Jack Ahearn, Mitch Cornish and Mitch Cronin will part ways with the club however up and coming stars such as Brenko Lee and Jeremy Hawkins will continue to knock on the door of selection in 2016 with their continued development.

Adding to the depth in the halves in 2016 will also be the acquisition of outstanding halfback/five-eighth Aiden Sezer from the Gold Coast Titans. Sezer will undoubtedly have Austin and Williams on their toes throughout the pre-season.

Player

Matches

Runs

Metres

Tackles

Tries

Try Assist

Tackle Breaks

Offloads

Austin, B

23

168

1788

395

14

7

59

17

Cornish, M

7

32

255

94

1

5

13

1

Croker, J

24

203

2093

415

12

7

50

11

Hawkins, J

4

36

308

45

1

 

2

 

Lee, B

2

19

185

33

1

 

4

 

Lee, E

23

248

2723

141

12

4

25

16

Leilua, J

6

46

501

63

 

2

16

3

McCrone, J

4

16

97

68

 

 

 

1

Rapana, J

19

196

1990

149

7

3

65

12

Tupou, B

1

8

80

12

 

 

4

 

Waqa, Si

21

256

2399

219

6

5

25

42

Wighton, J

21

319

3007

126

7

6

58

9

Williams, S

16

72

575

227

3

12

11

7