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 locks.
Corey Horsburgh – six games
Sia Soliola – one game
Kai O’Donnell – four games, one try
Joe Tapine – 14 games, three tries
Hudson Young – two games
Corey Harawira-Neara – one game
Ryan Sutton – two games
Siliva Havili – one game
Darby Medlyn – one game
When John Bateman was ruled out of the opening months of the NRL season, the big question was how the Raiders would line up in the second row.
As it turned out, regular lock Joe Tapine was shifted to the edge as Corey Horsburgh won the race to wear the number 13 jersey.
Having enjoyed a fine debut year in 2019, the fiery red-head produced stellar performances with his strong carries and skillful offloads.
The Queensland junior representative player missed the round five win against the Tigers due to illness and was replaced by Sia Soliola before returning the following week.
However, a season ending injury to Horsburgh in round seven against the Eels meant that a further reshuffle was required.
Ryan Sutton started at lock against the Dragons but as more middle forwards were struck by injury, rookie Kai O’Donnell started the next three games at lock.
O’Donnell played the role in a slightly different way as he played at a high intensity for the first 25 minutes before being moved to the interchange. Siliva Havili played at lock in second half following his first stint on the field at hooker.
Throughout all this, Joe Tapine was used off the bench as Ricky Stuart generally had him on the field while Josh Papalii was off.
When John Bateman returned from injury and Corey Harawira-Naera linked up with the club it gave Ricky Stuart more options in the forward pack as Hudson Young moved to lock from the second-row.
Stuart continued to rotate the pack with Sutton, Young and Harawira-Naera all getting starts at lock before deciding to start Tapine from Round 16 onwards.
The Kiwi international showed career best form as he scored important tries and proved a handful for opposing defences while he was on the field in tandem with Josh Papalii.
Tapine was rest for the final game of the regular season amongst a host of other established first graders which gave Havili his first start at lock.
During the course of the match Kai O’Donnell and Darby Medlyn both impressed during their time on the field with O’Donnell scoring his first ever NRL try.
Tapine returned for the finals and had two stellar performances where he was amongst the best players on the field.
The Big Matches
Round 1 – Raiders 24 d Titans 6
A late change by Ricky Stuart saw Corey Horsburgh start the season at lock with Joe Tapine moved to the right edge to cover for the injured John Bateman.
After a fine debut season in 2019, Horsburgh quickly showed that he was taking his game to the next level with an impressive 62 minute performance against the Titans.
The Queensland junior representative showcased his ability to offload with four in the match while also accruing 125 running metres.
Horsburgh was equally as impressive in defence with 37 tackles to his name.
Any questions about the make up of the Raiders forward pack were quickly answered on the back of his performance.
Elimination Final – Raiders 32 d Sharks 20
After a solid start to the season, Joe Tapine finished the season in career best form and took his game to the next level.
Tapine gave the Raiders an early lead after he beat three defenders with late footwork and sheer strength to score.
The Kiwi international made 136 running meters with 54 of those meters coming post contact.
In addition to this, Tapine made two offloads, one line break and nine tackles busts.
Semi Final – Raiders 22 d Roosters 18
In his 100th Raiders match, Joe Tapine produced arguably his finest performance to date.
In a sudden-death match against the Roosters, Tapine went to the next level as he produced a try that was labelled as one of the great individual forward tries.
Having received the ball 20 metres from the try line, Tapine skipped his way through the Roosters defence, palming off Luke Keary twice in the process.
During his 49 minutes on the field, Tapine ran for 172 meters, made nine tackle busts and made 28 tackles as he laid the foundation for one the most impressive victories of the 2020 season.