Canberra Raiders 2012 season preview

Last season was blighted by injuries to key players – what hope the Raiders returning to top eight in 2012?

Canberra are desperate to rediscover some form after a pretty rotten 2011. On paper they have reasons to be optimistic but transferring the squad’s undoubted potential into points will not prove easy.

The return to fitness of playmaker Terry Campese, who missed almost all of last season, is a massive boost. Campese played State of Origin in 2009 and adds another dimension to the Raiders attack.

Josh Dugan also had his struggles with injury last year but he is regarded as one of NRL’s brightest talents and a future test star.

David Shillington is the key man in the pack and the Raiders will also hope the talented Tom Learoyd-Lahrs can begin to find some consistency. 

However, coach David Furner also has his headaches – who will replace the retired Alan Tongue as captain and who will partner Campese in the halves?

Last year’s decision to bring Matt Orford back to the capital proved costly and Shaun Berrigan is the only new arrival despite a number of departures.

Prediction: 15th 

Players in: Shaun Berrigan (Warriors)

Players out: Daniel Vidot, Josh Miller (Both Dragons), Danny Galea (Panthers), David Milne (Mackay), Matt Orford and Alan Tongue (Both retired)

Coach: David Furner – Raiders legend Furner has delivered one finals appearance in three seasons and could pay the price if Canberra fail to make the eight once again.

Star man: Josh Dugan – Outstanding young fullback who, assuming he can stay injury free, should cement his place in the New South Wales side but could be distracted by talk of a switch to Canterbury.

Breakthrough year: Josh Papalii – Teenage forward who more than held his own when thrown into first grade midway through last year and looks a genuine talent. Outside bet for international honours.

Young gun: Matt McIlwrick – Highly promising Kiwi hooker who has impressed in the Raiders under 20s set-up and could solve a problem position for Canberra.

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