After a pre-season of growth and maturity, it was only fitting that Raiders back-rower Hudson Young had the final say with the match-winning try against Cronulla last Friday.
Young, who celebrated his 50th game with the Raiders in style, linked with fellow milestone man Jack Wighton in the final minutes to secure the home side a much-needed win to start their campaign.
In 2021, the Raiders found themselves in tight contests but struggled to win the big moments when it mattered, losing four games by three points or less.
They've already begun to rectify the issue in 2022.
“We had a period in the middle of last year where we dropped off after starting well,” Young told NRL.com.
“You just can’t afford to lose too many close games in the NRL.
“It came down to two points last year missing the eight so I feel like this year we’ve put a lot of emphasis on our attack and being able to score points under pressure.”
Match Highlights: Raiders v Sharks
Young’s new partnership with Wighton on the left edge, a huge focus for Ricky Stuart during the off-season, is also hoped to be a point of difference for the side this year.
After floating on both edges and in the middle since arriving at the club, the 23-year-old has spent the whole off-season alongside Wighton and Adam Elliott this year.
“It’s good to play all over the park but this pre-season I’ve been able to focus on the left side with Jack and trying to nail that position in the team,” Young said.
“I still think Jack is one of the best players in the competition. Just being able to play alongside and learn from him every day, I’m very grateful for that.
“I feel like having that mindset of knowing where I’ll be and where I want to go has helped me a lot in the pre-season.”
Young believes he’s also found his voice at the club after three seasons as a result, no longer classing himself as one of the younger forwards in the team.
“That’s been a big stepping stone for me,” he said. “I feel like you have to earn your way to have that voice.
“I was a bit more of a sponge in previous years rather than putting my input. Stick (Ricky Stuart) and the coaches have been massive and backing my ability and confidence to be able to speak out within the team.
“I feel like this year I’ve taken a lot more a leadership role and can help some of the younger boys as well as have a voice with some of the older lads.”