Throughout the 2020 season, the Raiders had outstanding performers across the park. Whether they were international stars or rookies coming into the team, each of them played a significant role in the season just gone.
In this series, we’ll look at each position and each of the players who played there for the Green Machine as we review the 2020 season.
This time we’re taking a look at the props.
Josh Papalii – 22 games, five tries
Dunamis Lui - 20 games, two tries
Emre Guler – eight games, one try
Sia Soliola – 11 games, one try
Hudson Young – nine games, four tries
Corey Harawira-Naera – nine games
The engine room for the Raiders’ success in recent years continued to deliver throughout 2020.
Ricky Stuart had a strong team select for the opening round even with Ryan Sutton and Hudson Young unavailable for selection.
With the coach carrying an outside back and Havili on the bench, Lui, Papalii, Guler, and Soliola impressed for the Raiders as the team chalked up three straight wins to start the season.
Ryan Sutton made his first appearance of the season in round five and was so impressive that Dunamis Lui couldn’t find a place in the side.
However, an injury crisis hit after a brutal round eight win against the Dragons. The week prior, lock Corey Horsburgh suffered a season ending injury which was followed by a season ending injury to Emre Guler and a horrific facial fracture for Sia Soliola.
With few middle forwards available, Dunamis Lui returned to the side in spectacular fashion while Josh Papalii proved why he is the best prop in the game.
The forward stocks were replenished by round 12 as John Bateman’s return saw Hudson Young move into the middle with devastating effect. In addition to this, Corey Harawira-Naera joined the club and produced energetic performances from the interchange.
A rotation of Papalii, Lui, Sutton, Young, and Harawira-Naera proved to be a handful for most sides as the Raiders only lost two matches from round 10 through to 19.
The Raiders were given a huge boost in the final game of the regular season as Sia Soliola made his long awaited return to the side as the Raiders claimed a memorable win against the Sharks. Unfortunately, in form English forward Ryan Sutton injured his MCL in the fixture but the timely return of Soliola meant the veteran slotted into the side for the finals series.
Josh Papalii had a mammoth game in the semi-final against the Roosters as he scored the opening try and caused plenty of havoc.
Papalii finished the season named as one of the Dally M Props of the Year and also won the NRL Tackle of the Year due to his fantastic effort to chase down Jamal Fogarty.
Both Papalii and Lui were rewarded for their efforts throughout the 2020 season with callups to the Queensland Origin squad.
The Big Matches
Round 10 – Raiders 24 d Roosters 20
Don’t poke the bear.
In a backs to the wall game with Josh Hodgson and Bailey Simonsson having been ruled out for the season as well as Emre Guler, Sia Soliola, and Corey Horsburgh all ruled out long term, the forward pack lifted immensely.
Dunamis Lui ensured the Raiders started on the right track as he scored the opening try of the game in what was a monster performance. Lui also completed two one on one strips for the match.
The Roosters tried to get under Josh Papalii’s skin when Angus Crichton elbowed him in the nose but the Australian and Queensland representative produced a stellar performance which included the match winning try.
Round 15 – Raiders 36 d Titans 16
It was an important occasion for Dunamis Lui as he celebrated his 150th NRL match and the rest of the pack made sure he celebrated the milestone in style.
The game which is fondly remembered for Josh Papalii’s ankle tap on Jamal Fogarty had plenty of highs but it was Ryan Sutton who stepped up to the plate.
The Englishman received a late callup as he earned a place in the starting side and played 52 interrupted minutes as he charged into the Titans’ defensive line time and time again.
Sutton made over 200 running metres and Dunamis made close to 150 metres in his milestone match.
Round 18 – Raiders 37 d Dragons 8
He switched between the edge and the middle throughout the season but Hudson Young had a game to remember down in Wollongong.
The forward scored the Raiders first try of the afternoon as he beat the defenders with late footwork as he planted the ball under the posts.
Young also managed to set up a try for John Bateman, as he broke through the line before finding his second-rower in support. Young made 198 running meters for the match.
In support, Ryan Sutton, Dunamis Lui, and Corey Harawira-Naera all made over 100 running meters.