The Daily Telegraph is reporting that Storm centre Curtis Scott is considering joining the people’s team, the Canberra Raiders, for the 2020 season.
If this occurs it would be quite the boon for the Green Machine. Scott is only 22, and has shown that he has the potential to be an exceptional football player. He can defend, has a strong carry and has shown an ability to ball-play in his time at the Storm.
For the Raiders, Scott is insurance for Bailey Simonsson’s transition full time starter, as well as BJ Leilua. He would provide depth across the centre-three-quarters, something that feels the only place where Canberra were potentially “light-on” going into 2020. He also provides a talented player that could be with the Milk for years, covering for departing and ageing stars over the next few years. It’s almost too good to be true. Which usually means it is.
With the information we have it’s hard to understand just why Scott is keen to leave the Storm for the Raiders. He has a definite starting position on a perennial contender in the most liveable city in the world. Just why would he be leaving that situation to ride the bench on a less established contender?
You might remember the Raiders Raise from last year, when Shaun Johnson, Corey Norman, Mitchell Moses, Matt Dufty and Dylan Edwards were all rumoured you be pretty much signed with Canberra. For each of them it was more about using the Raiders as leverage to resolve or improve their position at their own club.
In this circumstance it’s not hard to see that Scott may be using this as an opportunity to get more money to match his newly established role as a starter for the Storm.
If Scott is genuine in his interest in Canberra, it more likely means that more Raiders stars are walking out the door. The Green Machine have clearly been at the edge of the salary cap; it already forced out Jordan Rapana, and the problem is being exacerbated by Jack Wighton and John Bateman looking to improve their salaries.
The opaque nature of player payments makes it hard to judge just what the impact would be. Aidan Sezer has been ‘almost gone’ for months now and it’s difficult to tell what his salary hold has been earmarked for. The Raiders may be able to bring on Scott, and upgrade Wighton and Bateman, for Sezer’s contract. The guys over the the Raiders Review podcast rightly point out that Sezer and Curtis Scott share a manager (Sam Ayoub) so there may well be something in this.
However, I think that just as likely is that BJ Leilua would be out the door. If you’ve read these pages before you’d know that I would be gutted. I would also think the Green Machine would be less likely to win the premiership in 2020 with Scott in Leilua’s place. BJ’s hard “third prop” carries, and his defensive coordination with Bateman and Sezer was exemplary in 2019. Scott will add a lot, but he can’t single handedly change a game like BJ can. Only time will tell if his guarantee proves to be untrue.
Having said all that, something about this feels different to previous rumours. As former Canberra Times journalist Jon Tuxworth points out, it’s unlikely Sticky would go on the record if it wasn’t a possibility. Further, as @sparkydenied reminded us, the Storm have their own cap issues. There’s a real possibility this could actually happen.
If the Raiders can pull this off without sacrificing their present, it will also provide a robust foundation for their future. Only time will tell if such sacrifices are being made, or if the Raiders are being used.
But maybe the sun is shining on God’s country, and the Raiders can add more talent without jeopardising their premiership chances.
We can only hope.