The NSWRL has cast its eye over the 12 teams who will take part in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup in 2022, with the opening round to kick off on Saturday 12 March. The state’s premier competition remains a valuable pathway for higher honours with 52 players going on last season to play in the NRL. Today, the Canberra Raiders.
Canberra Raiders were in seventh position when the 2021 season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic with a record of five wins and eight losses, including several of those losses by razor thin margins.
The Raiders had a strong start with a 32-18 victory over competition heavyweights, Western Suburbs Magpies. From there, they notched up wins over the Parramatta Eels and Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, as well as a resounding 60-20 victory over the Newtown Jets at home.
There were three The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup graduates who made their NRL debuts in 2021 including Brad Schneider, Elijah Anderson and rising star Xavier Savage, who was also a part of the Raiders 2021 SG Ball Cup Grand Final winning side.
With new coach Joel Carbone taking over from Peter Marrapodi and several talented juniors coming through their pathways systems, there is plenty for Raiders fans to be excited about in 2022.
The Raiders fielded a young squad in 2021, and with the SG Ball side tasting Grand Final glory, their NSW Cup side is oozing with talent.
“We had a young squad last year, some of our young guys got some exposure to NSW Cup and they took a lot of confidence out of that and the fact they were able to progress into the NRL,” Carbone said.
With so many young players coming through, Carbone believes the key to unlocking the Raiders best footy in 2022 is lessening the gaps between the NRL and NSW Cup squads, so they feel confident to play in the top grade.
“Guys like Matt Timoko, Harley Smith-Shields, Brad Schneider, Xavier Savage, Trey Mooney, Harry Rushton all played a good portion of the NSW Cup season last year and were able to handle the physicality of it right through to first grade,” he said.
“The thing is we want them to feel confident to play NRL. That’s the thing we want to have out of this team.”
Players to Watch
Schneider was a shining light in the Raiders 2021 season, going on to make his NRL debut in round 11.
The Adelaide-born halfback is currently signed until the end of the 2023 and adds plenty of depth to the Raiders halves that already includes Jack Wighton, Matt Frawley, Sam Williams and new recruit Jamal Fogarty.
Schneider might receive an opportunity earlier than expected this season after Fogarty was ruled out for the first four months of the competition through injury.
“He’s been very, very good in the off-season and the boys feel very confident with him,” Carbone said.
“He’s ready to play NRL when he gets his opportunity.”
Schneider finished the 2021 season with 11 games, four tries, 76 points (5th), seven try assists, six linebreak assists, 56 running metres per game and 75.6 kicking metres per game.
“We’ve got a few exciting, young outside backs,” Carbone said.
“We’ve got James Schiller who is a new addition to the squad, Brad Morkos, Michael Asomua who has come through our pathways system has been very impressive.
“We have a highly talented crop of young players that work super hard on their game and when they do get their opportunity to play NRL, we’ve got a lot of confidence in all these kids based off what we’ve seen this pre-season.
Other players from the SG Ball Grand Final winning side who are likely to feature in NSW Cup this year include Jack Sandford, Sione Moala and Clay Webb.