The Canberra Raiders’ Jersey Flegg team will be hoping to start this year’s season off with a win when they face the Victorian Thunderbolts at GIO Stadium this Friday afternoon.
The team will be hoping to repeat their impressive run last season, which saw them make it to the semi-finals with an upset victory over eventual premiers Newcastle Knights in the round before.
However, a four point loss to the Sharks saw the team, who went under the Mounties names and colours, bow out of the competition with just two wins away from winning the cup.
New coach Ash Barnes said that confidence levels are high after a long pre-season, which started in early November, and believes that playing under the Canberra Raiders name for the 2019 season will help encourage the side.
“To pull on the Raiders jersey every single week is really exciting,” said Barnes. “Ricky congratulated the boys on making the final squad for Friday night… it feels like we’re really a part of the Raiders club.”
Barnes believes that the Raiders are at an advantage having many local guys playing for the Green Machine who have known each other for so long.
Amongst the players named in the starting 17, Barnes has highlighted lock Darby Medlyn and centre Harley Smith-Shields as the players to watch. However, Barnes said all the players have approached pre-season in a positive manner.
“Both participated in a pre-Christmas training program with the NRL, and have continued to train really well,” said Barnes. “It’s good to see Ricky and the NRL staff are keeping an eye on the Jersey Flegg players, and if they are doing the right things then they’ll get rewarded.”
The game against the Thunderbolts will be a curtain raiser for the NRL clash later on, with the Jersey Flegg match kicking off at 3:45pm at GIO Stadium.