12 April 2023

Don’t let the critics or rumours ruin the season for the Raiders (nor your passion for the team)

| Tim Gavel
Start the conversation
Raiders celebrating after a win

More than a few Raiders celebrated the Green Machine’s win in Brisbane on Saturday. Photo: Raiders.

We’ve heard it all: Ricky can’t coach, there’s disunity in the playing group, too many old players, Jack Wighton is heading to the Dolphins, Elliott Whitehead is over the hill.

All are simply the thoughts of critics paid to have a point of view that invites conjecture or rumours fuelled by keyboard warriors.

The Raiders’ start to the season didn’t help, but the criticism failed to look at the detail around the team’s first few games.

Apart from the loss to the Panthers, where the Raiders had the night off in defence in the second half resulting in Penrith running in seven second-half tries, the Raiders were in a position to win the three other games.

They had momentum coming back from 18-nil down to level the score against the Cowboys only to lose to a Chad Townsend field goal.

They led 12-0 against the Dolphins, only to go down 20-14 on the back of errors in very ordinary conditions.

Errors also cost the Raiders dearly in the loss to Newcastle after they led 14-8 at halftime before the Knights scored three unanswered tries in the second half to win 24-14.

They held their resolve in the two wins for the season thus far, against the Sharks and the competition’s previously unbeaten team, the Broncos.

READ MORE What Sam did next: fan favourite Sam Williams takes the reins in the corporate world

Ricky Stuart must have thick skin, with his emotions on show for all to see. He has become an easy target.

If he couldn’t coach, how did the Raiders make the grand final in 2019 and finish one game short of the decider last year after going down heavily to Parramatta?

Last season the Raiders only had two wins in the first eight rounds before winning 13 out of the next 17 games en route to the semi-final against the Eels.

The critics have short memories.

Surely the rumour of disunity, which always seems to occur after a few losses, has been put to bed with one of the most spirited performances in the Raiders’ recent history against the Broncos at Lang Park.

The charge was led by 33-year-old Elliott Whitehead and 30-year-old Josh Papalii.

READ ALSO PBS Building debts balloon to $60m as administrators win more time to complete investigation

I confess I have written in the past about the Raiders’ aging roster only to see that opinion totally quashed by performances that only experienced players can manifest.

Speculation about Jack Wighton’s future is only a distraction to those outside the playing group – the players are not impacted in the slightest.

But there are plenty of people hoping it becomes a distraction, along with all the other chatter about the team: it must be the Jack Wighton issue, Ricky can’t coach, players are too old.

The scrutiny and gossip around the game have become an industry in itself as critics and pundits try to outdo themselves for what passes as critical analysis.

Sometimes it is quite simple. Against the Panthers, they were in the game at 13-6 at halftime. It could have been 12-all had Fogarty scored.

In the second half, poor discipline cost them dearly.

The Panthers had all the momentum and the Raiders were completely overrun. They had a very poor second half, to say the least, as was acknowledged by the coach and players.

It resulted in a week of bad publicity about everything going wrong with the team.

The win against the Broncos hopefully has put it all to rest.

But rugby league is a fickle business.

Original Article published by Tim Gavel on Riotact.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.