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Raiders carrying history on their shoulders as they look to create their own

It’s game day. The players run onto the field to warm up. Focused, ready and with history on their shoulders.

In 2021, each of the Raiders players and staff members has a number on the sleeve of their Captain’s Run shirt. The number of a past player who inspires and drives the current group to success.

Every player has a number on their sleeve which represents a former Raider
Every player has a number on their sleeve which represents a former Raider

Raiders Football Assistant Brett Dickson created the concept and has helped the players and staff learn more about the club’s history and the people who helped make it.

At the start of the season, each of the players selected a former player they’d like to represent, whether it be due to playing the same position or it being someone they know personally. The number not only appears on their Captain’s Shirt but also their notepads, folders and locker rooms on matchdays.

“The last couple of years we’ve had themes – such as the 1989 and 1990 Premierships,” Dickson said. “This year I had an idea where you’d select a player who has done a bit for the club – they must have played over 100 games or played in grand finals.

“Players who have achieved something that you’d want to achieve as a player.”

Understanding the history of the club and past achievements plays an important role as the current playing group strive to make their own history.

“I think it’s important the players know where they come from,” Dickson said. “You’ve only got to see the ex-players that come back and all they love is getting their Raider number on a shirt and knowing that the boys remember them.

“Jarrod Croker has broken records, so he’s changing the history. You’ve got seven or eight blokes who’ve played over 100 games for us creating their own history.

“You’ve got Jack Wighton, he’s changed history by winning the Clive Churchill and Dally M Medals. Then you also have Josh Papalii, hopefully, he’ll catch up to Laurie Daley and get five Mal Meninga Medals. He’s on four now, so he’s got one more to go.”

Dickson makes sure that each player knows the club’s history by putting each of them all through weekly quizzes through the pre-season - whether that be a rookie, a new signing or an established star.

English halfback George Williams was clueless when he began taking the quizzes in the 2020 pre-season, but has now established an understanding and appreciation of the Raiders’ history.

“I don’t want to sound cocky or arrogant but I didn’t know too much about the history,” Williams said. “I grew up watching Wigan so probably know a bit more about them but when I came to the club I couldn’t believe how big they were on past players and past achievements.

“{When I first arrived] we did a quiz and I couldn’t answer one question but now I’m pretty confident to do them all.”

George Williams has '98' on his sleeve to represent premiership winning halfback and current coach Ricky Stuart.
George Williams has '98' on his sleeve to represent premiership winning halfback and current coach Ricky Stuart.

The knowledge that has resulted from these tasks has given Williams extra motivation for success as a team.

“I didn’t realise Canberra had been that successful in the 90s,” Williams said. “They were obviously the team to beat and were in Grand Finals regularly and won a few good comps.

As a team, looking back at that success, we want to replicate that and get a few premierships under the belt.

George Williams

For Raiders co-captain Josh Hodgson it was a different situation. Having watched the Raiders have success as a young boy, he immediately chose to represent Steve Walters on his sleeve.

Josh Hodgson has '78'on his sleeve to represent premiership winning hooker Steve Walters
Josh Hodgson has '78'on his sleeve to represent premiership winning hooker Steve Walters

“He’s a legend of the club and someone that I remember from watching games when I was younger,” Hodgson said. “When me and my mates were running around the park you would pick a player you’d be for the day, and he [Walters] was definitely one you’d look out for.”

“Obviously, I was really young then, but when you look back and remember all the old names and the great names of the club, to have him on my shirt is a huge honour.  He won three comps down here and had a fantastic career.

He’s still the one I idolise and try and do what he did. If I can win one competition, I’ll be happy. I’m sure he was over the moon to win three.

Josh Hodgson

Being able to represent Steve Walters with the number not only on his sleeve but also on his back is something that Hodgson cherishes.

“In England, you get a squad number and that’s your number for the year,” Hodgson said. ”I think the difference over here is that when you put the number nine jersey on, you’re representing all the other blokes that have worn the number nine for the Canberra Raiders.

“I’m trying to do them proud and hopefully create a bit more of our history.”

Raider Number Name Representing
98 Ricky Stuart Tim Sheens
190 Andrew McFadden Laurie Daley 88
284 Jarrod Croker Mal Meninga 76
296 Sam Williams Ashley Gilbert 32
297 Brett White Shaun Fensom 287
300 Josh Papalii Rueben Wiki 153
303 Jack Wighton Laurie Daley 88
322 Jordan Rapana Brett Mullins 118
325 Josh Hodgson Steve Walters 78
326 Sia Soliola Quentin Pongia 149
333 Elliott Whitehead Jason Croker 124
336 Joseph Tapine Dean Lance 51
342 Dunamis Lui Josh Miller 243
347 Siliva Havili Alan Tongue 211
353 Emre Guler David Grant 2
355 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad Gary Belcher 73
356 Bailey Simonsson John Ferguson 75
357 Corey Horsburgh Troy Thompson 229
358 Ryan Sutton Glenn Lazarus 90
359 Hudson Young Bradley Clyde 97
361 Sebastian Kris Ken Nagas 146
362 Tom Starling Glen Buttriss 277
363 Curtis Scott Joel Monaghan 224
364 George Williams Ricky Stuart 98
365 Kai O'Donnell David Furner 135
366 Semi Valemei Noa Nadruku 151
367 Harley Smith-Shields Matthew Wood 103
368 Corey Harawira-Neara Brent Todd 85
369 Matt Timoko Phil Graham 232
370 Adam Cook Mark McLinden 195
371 Matt Frawley Terry Campese 242
372 Darby Medlyn Joe Picker 270
374 Ryan James Tom Learoyd-Lahrs 260
- Caleb Aekins Clinton Schifcofske 219
- Harry Rushton Brett Hetherington 134
- Nigel Ashley-Jones Brian Bourke (First strength & conditioning coach)
- Brett Dickson Les McIntyre 1