Canberra Raiders were always a NRL premiership threat

At the start of the NRL season you assess all the teams before you nominate your Top 8.

And of course, you settle on eight teams who will hopefully have their best players on deck come the finals.

Absolutely had no hesitation nominating Canberra.

In fact, tipped the Raiders to finish in fourth place.

Had a decent side on paper and adequate depth.

Could say that one did their homework on their English recruits.

Wasn’t sure who would end up playing fullback, but hasn’t Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad grabbed his opportunity by the throat.

Jack Wighton playing at five-eighth came as a surprise, but then again who would have expected him to play in the centres for NSW.

The Raiders were a $17 chance to win the 2019 premiership when the market was released in October last year.

Despite receiving little recognition, Canberra kept rolling along and sat comfortably in the Top 8.

Discussing who would make the Top 8 with mates, I nominated the Raiders as a candidate without hesitation.

The response was mixed.

At the end of the State of Origin series it was apparent that the “Green Machine” would most likely crack the Top 4.

Turning for home in the race for the 2019 premiership it then became clear that it was a three horse race – Storm, Roosters and Raiders.

Didn’t rate the Rabbitohs, the Eels and Sea Eagles had overachieved, the Sharks were far too inconsistent, and the Broncos were making up the numbers.

However, I will give you 58 reasons why the Tigers – instead of the Broncos – would have been a lot more competitive had they got a crack at the Eels in the first week of the finals.

The Raiders roll the Storm in Melbourne in August and suddenly the world seemingly takes notice.

Ricky Stuart’s mob slip up at home in the final round against those unpredictable Warriors and finish in 4th place.

The Raiders would have been on the road against the Roosters in the first week of the finals had they finished 3rd.

Instead, Canberra heads back to Melbourne and once again they produce a stunning win over the Storm.

Proves that their first win over the runaway minor premiers was no fluke.

The plaudits for the Raiders only intensifies.

Proves that the media were all “warm and fuzzy” when it came to the Storm, Roosters, Rabbitohs, Eels, Sea Eagles and Sharks.

Even the Broncos and Tigers received more love than the Raiders.

Could it be that with Ricky Stuart at the helm as coach Canberra weren’t in the premiership equation?

A gutsy win over the Rabbitohs in the preliminary final and Canberra cracks the grand final.

Their first since 1994 and significantly 30 years after their first grand final triumph.

All week, it has been suggested that it will be a massive upset if the Raiders roll the Roosters in the grand final.

Say what?

The Raiders are a talented bunch and at full strength are a formidable opponent.

In recent years, it has been proven that to achieve premiership success you’ve got to have your best side on the paddock in the final game of the season.

Do you think the Roosters roll the Storm in last year’s grand final without Cooper Cronk?

The Roosters are basically fielding their best team in the grand final – although many will argue that Jake Friend is a huge omission.

On the other side of the fence there is a question mark in regards to the fitness of Joey Leilua.

We’ll find out more come Sunday, won’t we?

And the good news for those supporting the Raiders is that no team has won back to back grand finals in 26 years.

It should be an intriguing grand final and if both teams bring their A grade game to the table it could go right down to the wire.

Finally, the Roosters were a $5.00 favourite to win the 2019 premiership this time last year.

By the way, I am a Roosters supporter.

Below is my Top 8 in 2019 before Round 1 and as you can see there’s no Storm, Eels, Sea Eagles or Sharks.

Proves that the NRL is arguably the most even competition in Australia and that as a coach Storm’s Craig Bellamy has no peer in this country.

COWBOYS

ROOSTERS

PANTHERS

RAIDERS

RABBITOHS

WARRIORS

BRONCOS

DRAGONS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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