Canberra Raiders appear to be approaching the Telstra 2020 NRL Premiership competition mostly intact from the side that made a nice effort agasint Sydney Roosters in the 2019 Grand Final.
There were only three defectors in the off-season. Centre Joey Leilua is now with Wests Tigers. Winger Jordan Rapana took the union route and halfback Aidan Sezer made a move to the northern hemisphere and the Super League with the Huddersfield Giants.
The one thing list managers from all codes will agree on is that if a player must be lost, the best outcome is that the player does not return to haunt the original club, so for Canberra, only one of the three departed will be around to pose any threat in 2020.
The Raiders have locked Jack Wighton through the end of 2024 and the Clive Churchill Medal winner from the Grand Final is eager to build on last year’s progress.
“I really believe we’ve got the team to win a grand final. I’m not saying that lightly, I know there’s a lot of hard work and a lot of luck in that also but I definitely believe,” Wighton said in remarks published by AAP.
Wighton has had some scrapes with the law, the typical alcohol induced nightclub brawl and he has made a smooth transition from fullback to five-eighth.
His new deal is rumoured to be for around $750,000 per year.
The Raiders were outside finals following a 10th-place finish in 2018, finishing fourth in 2019, so the 2020 NRL season seems to hold promise for the Capital-based club.
To replace the departed players, Canberra went out and got George Williams from England and Curtis Scott from Melbourne Storm as a replacement for Leilua.
There is still some uncertainty swirling around Scott. He is under police scrutiny over allegations of assault, but he has denied the charges.
Canberra are still negotiating with Jarrod Croker and Nick Cotric.
It might be a good omen that Canberra opens the Telstra 2020 NRL Premiership agasint Gold Coast in a month’s time.