The Canberra Raiders have announced four more premiership players into their Hall of Fame, at tonight’s 40th Anniversary Gala.
The four new members were all part of the club’s premiership winning side of 1994 and join several of their former teammates in the club Hall of Fame.
Paul Osborne (Raider #132), Brett Hetherington (Raider #134), Quentin Pongia (Raider #149) and Noa Nadruku (Raider #151) had the honour of being inducted by the 2021 inductees who were announced earlier this season at the club’s online season launch.
In 2019 the Canberra Raiders started a new Hall of Fame to recognise past players, coaches and individuals who have contributed significantly to the club. Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the club’s maiden premiership in 1989, 13 players and former Coach Tim Sheens were inducted as the first members of the Canberra Raiders Hall of Fame at the 2019 Season Launch.
In total, 25 individuals are now honoured in the Raiders Hall of Fame, and these people are recognised on the Club's website and at the Raiders Centre in Braddon.
Annually, Hall of Fame rules specify that up to 4 additional inductees can be admitted each season.
Raider #132, Paul Osborne
Canberra recruited talented ball-playing prop Paul Osborne from the St. George Dragons, and in his first season at the Green Machine (i.e. 1992) he started in 21 matches in the front row, the most matches he played during a single season at the Raiders. The following year he churned out another 19 appearances in the top grade, however it was during his third and final season at the Club (which was to be his final at first grade level) that would turn out to be Ossie’s most memorable during his playing career.
2022 Hall of Fame inductee: Paul Osborne
The suspension of New Zealand International prop John Lomax on the eve of the 1994 Grand Final, and subsequent masterstroke by coach Tim Sheens to call upon Osborne’s experience - even though he had not played first grade for over 2 months, was significant in the Raiders collecting their third premiership with victory over Canterbury Bankstown. During a wonderful first half individual performance, Osborne laid on two spectacular tries to David Furner and Ken Nagas with sublime offloads, which would see the Green Machine take a 18-6 lead into the half time break (a score which was doubled by the end of the game).
In 1995 at the age of 28, Osborne played local rugby league for the West Belconnen Warriors in the NSWRL Group 8 competition, the same year he was elected as the first Independent Member of the ACT Legislative Assembly. His political lobbying and connections were instrumental in securing funding and facilities for both the Canberra Raiders and Canberra District Rugby League (CDRL). Following his political career, which ended in 2001, he became an administrator with the CDRL and worked in commentary with ABC Grandstand Canberra.
Raider #134, Brett Hetherington
Riverina product Brett Hetherington, who grew up in Young NSW, debuted for the Raiders off the bench in Round 1 of the 1992 season against the Penrith Panthers. Tasting success in his first match, the young firebrand would forge a successful career in green with a 65.5%-win ratio in the 119 first grade matches he played for Canberra.
After an impressive 16 appearances in his first season in the top grade in a star-studded and successful team, injury restricted his matches to only 8 games in 1993. However, the following year he amassed 24 games which culminated in premiership success following Canberra's stunning grand final win against Canterbury Bankstown 36-12. Hetherington was one of only 15 players Tim Sheens used in the premiership decider of 1994.
2022 Hall of Fame inductee: Brett Hetherington
‘Hethro’ was an aggressive and skilful forward who was equally effective in both attack and defence. He possessed great speed and athleticism for a big man, which saw him become the mainstay of the Raiders pack during the 1990’s.
Brett stayed loyal to the Green Machine during the Super League era and represented the Australian Team in the Super League 9’s tournament in 1997.
At the end of the 1998 season he joined former coach Tim Sheens at the North Queensland Cowboys where he finished his career.
Raider #149, Quentin Pongia
Recruited to Canberra by coach Tim Sheens from the Canterbury (NZ) club in 1993, Quentin Pongia forged a remarkable career at the Green Machine which saw him win nearly 73% of the 74 matches he played for the Club at first grade level.
The ferocious prop forward added much needed muscle to the Canberra pack, which resulted in premiership success in 1994 following a 36-12 grand final win against the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs.
Quentin was a tradesman-like player who never shirked hard work, in fact he loved it, and he regularly took the tough carries in attack and provided inspirational hits in defence. Together with countryman John Lomax and Australian hooker Steve Walters, he formed a formidable world class front row combination that was rarely dominated.
2022 Hall of Fame inductee: Quentin Pongia
Former teammate and fellow Raiders Hall of Fame inductee Ricky Stuart best described the Kiwi International’s impact at the Club, “Quentin is the toughest individual I have ever played with…”.
Pongia left the Raiders after the 1997 Super League season, however post playing career he found his way back to the Green Machine in 2010-2011 to work alongside then coach David Furner as a member of the Club’s NRL coaching staff.
Noa Nadruku, Raider #151
Former highly regarded Fijian rugby union player Noa Nadruku was initially offered an opportunity to train with Canberra, and then signed by coach Tim Sheens after catching his eye whilst playing for Fiji in the Nissan World Sevens tournament.
Nadruku made an immediate impact in his first season at the Raiders in 1993, scoring a club record 22 tries in first grade from 20 matches – being the first player to score more than one try per game in a full season since Larry Corowa had scored 24 tries in 22 games for Balmain in 1978.
A serious injury kept Noa off the field for the first half of 1994, but by the final series of that year he was back to full strength. He was one of Canberra's best in their 36–12 victory over Canterbury in the Grand Final, scoring a try, making several powerful runs, and involving himself throughout.
2022 Hall of Fame inductee: Noa Nadruku
Nadruku was named 'Dally M' Winger of the Year in both 1993 and 1996 and was awarded the Raiders Player’s Player in 1996.
Amazingly Noa scored 73 tries in only 92 appearances for the Green Machine, many of which delighted the Club’s supporter base, although the same view was not held by opposition players who he comfortably disposed of on his way to the try line.
Nadruku was a powerful ball runner who possessed dazzling footwork and speed. His robust defence also unsettled the opposition.
In 2006 he was named as one of the best 25 players to have worn the famous lime green jersey during the Raiders' 25-year anniversary celebrations.