The development of the club’s talented crop of young forwards of the ilk of Shannon Boyd, Jarrad Kennedy and Paul Vaughan was enhanced substantially by the recruitment of experienced internationals such as Sia Soliola and Frank-Paul Nuuausala in 2015.

“Our forwards played a massive role in regards to our improvement as a team,” Ricky Stuart said. “Defensively, their statistics were the best in the team. We need them to continue their consistency up front to push forward our claims in the future.”

Boyd, Vaughan and Kennedy all enjoyed their best seasons to date in the NRL with Boyd and Vaughan earning selection in the Country Origin squad.

Whilst the likes of Boyd, Vaughan and David Shillington were tremendous in providing the necessary go-forward up front, back-rowers Soliola and Josh Papalii were eye-catchingly impressive on their respective edges.

Soliola was particularly outstanding in 2015. His leadership, professionalism and obvious playing ability played a monumental role in the improvement of the Green Machine. His enormous contribution on the field saw him recognised with the Meninga Medal at the end of season presentation night.

After an admittedly slow start to the year, Papalii came home with a wet sail after a terrific mid-season resurgence which saw him reclaim his Queensland Origin jersey. Papalii finished the year with eight vital tries and several memorable bone-rattling tackles such as the shot on Josh Maguire which shook the foundations of GIO Stadium.

The hooking rotation of Hodgson and livewire Kurt Baptiste was also an effective element of Canberra’s forward pack in 2015.

Hodgson's arrival from the UK gave the Raiders stability at dummy half not seen in quite some time whilst Baptiste complimented Hodgson remarkably well with his speed and creativity out of dummy half.

“Our two hookers did a great job this year,” Stuart said.

“Josh has handled the NRL well from the outset and Kurt adds spark when he enters the field. It doesn’t surprise me with what they did this year because I see the extras that they do outside of training.”

As he has done since his debut back in 2009, Shaun Fensom continued his herculean efforts in the middle. Fensom is placed in the top five for total tackles in the competition after averaging 45 tackles per game.

Fensom, along with Hodgson and Soliola are the leaders of the Raiders forward pack and were instrumental in ensuring that Croker handled his first season of captaincy as well as he did.

“I think that Sia, Josh and Fenno have been very influential around Toots and that has really assisted him in the early part of his leadership,” Stuart said. “The club’s future is in good hands.”

Canberra also saw the debuts of two outstanding young prospects in Luke Bateman and Mitch Barnett in 2015 and the pair are are sure to be the cornerstones of the Raiders’ pack in the future.

Bateman finished the year with the Rookie of the Year Award at the Meninga Medal whilst Mitch Barnett was named VB NSW Cup Player of the Year at the Brad Fittler Medal after an outstanding season with Mounties.

The emergence of Bateman and Barnett, along with Tevita Pangai Junior in the Holden Cup and the pending arrival of English back-rower Elliott Whitehead, will ease the losses of players such as Joel Edwards, Mark Nicholls, Kyle O’Donnell and David Shillington.

Player

Mat

Runs

Metres

Tackles

Tries

Try Assist

Tackle Breaks

Offloads

Line Breaks

 

Baptiste, K

18

38

337

254

2

2

8

1

4

Barnett, M

2

16

163

40

 

 

5

1

 

Bateman, L

7

22

197

66

 

 

1

 

 

Boyd, S

20

195

1971

520

5

 

31

1

4

Buttriss, G

3

8

65

54

 

 

2

 

 

Fensom, S

23

308

2629

1024

3

 

16

25

1

Hodgson, J

24

162

1231

805

2

12

33

20

4

Kennedy, Jr

23

178

1634

572

4

1

21

6

4

Nicholls, M

5

34

353

87

 

1

4

 

2

Nuuausala, F

24

201

1904

407

1

 

18

11

1

Papalii, J

24

250

2355

690

8

2

43

21

6

Shillington, D

15

213

2083

433

 

 

17

36

1

Soliola, S

19

226

1934

695

4

3

15

13

5

Tilse, D

6

58

478

112

 

 

1

4

 

Vaughan, P

24

332

3359

557

4

1

34

14

4