2019 is but a memory now. A fond dream that didn’t quite end as it should’ve, but was unequivocally the best year to be a Canberra Raiders fan since before the internet (ish). Most are thinking (hoping?) for good things going forward for the Milk.
We’ll go further than that. We’ve got 20 thing we reckon will happen in 2020. These aren’t certain things. This is the good stuff. The bold..ish stuff. The Gary Belcher’s moustache stuff. Let’s go!
- Corey Horsburgh will play origin
This was way hotter when he hadn’t been named in the “we’re thinking about you” 33 man squad recently. But we’ve been on this for months. But still, not hot enough. How about…
- Corey Horsburgh will START in Origin
The Red Horseman of the apocalypse brought pain and destruction to oppositions in 2019, utilising his hard run, excellent offload and surprisingly handy passing. He did it mostly off the bench for Canberra, but Queensland doesn’t really have depth at any forward position, and I expect Corey to be there for the first origin. With Josh Papalii of course.
2. The Raiders should start fast. But they’ll just be solid.
The Milk only play three teams from last year’s playoffs in the first 12 weeks of the competition. They do have the Panthers twice, though it would be a brave person to suggest they’ll be a powerhouse in the upcoming season.
But everyone is gunning for the Raiders. The media are fawning over them and expecting success (even Buzz flipping Rothfield reckons they’ll finish second). This is a test of maturity. Incorporating George Williams into the show will take a while. The Raiders will win enough early, but plenty of us will be a bit frustrated they didn’t get the points they should have.
3. I’ll tweet about missing Jordan Rapana at least 12 times.
I miss him. I’m angry the NRL won’t let him back in. That’s not because it’s not a fair enough ruling in a vacuum. I mean we wouldn’t want people to run off the NFL every couple of seasons to get
out of a contract chase their dreams. I just want Rapa to get his proper recognition as a star of the game, and to be a part of the Raiders forever. I’m not asking much.
4. Joe Tapine will finally have his breakout year.
I’m so dedicated to Joe Tapine island that I’ve not only built a home there, I’ve been petitioning the government on the mainland for a school and a medical centre to accomodate the millions of people who are going to be joining me there in 2020. I know I said this last year and it didn’t happen, but Joe is too damn talented to be held back.
5. John Bateman will have 10 try assists
I think it will take a while but I’ve got this feeling that he and George Williams are going to build a partnership that gets the best out of both of them. I also think that means Bateman is going to get a few more opportunities to create. We saw that a little in 2019 – to the tune of 4 try assists (per NRL.com). I reckon we see it more in 2020.
6. Elliot Whitehead will remain forgotten by everyone
Smelly is a vital part of the functioning of the Raiders. In defence he’s human whiteout, eliminating the mistakes of everyone around him. In attack he always wins his ruck, and forms a troika of creative ballplayers with Wighton and Croker on the left. He’ll be excellent again in 2020, and not enough people will notice.
7. I will meet Gary Belcher and tell him to bring back the moustache
He was the best fullback of his time and people don’t talk about it enough. His moustache, like his jinking step, was a thing of beauty and I think about it often.
I’m not quite sure how I’m going to meet him. But I’ll put my mind to it. And then when I meet him, watch things get awkward.
8. We’ll know early if the Raiders 2019 defence is here to stay
They say defence is mostly stucture attitude. It sure seemed the arrival of John Bateman on the right and Jack Wighton on the left set the Raiders up to punish teams outside in. I think this will work just as well in 2020.
What will be more of a challenge is the attitude. Last year they played with a rare desperation. If you’ve seen any sportsmovie, the hunger isn’t always there the second time around (see: Rocky III, Major League II). It’s the hardest to replicate year-on-year. I reckon the early rounds will let us know if the fire is still there.
9. Ricky Stuart will get fined for the first time since 2018
10. Nic Cotric will fulfill his potential in 2020.
Cotric is playing for a new deal which has a habit of bringing out the best in people. He was relatively quiet last year and I can’t help but think the shuffling between right centre and left wing messed with his mojo. Even though I reckon he projects as a right centre going forward, with BJ and Curtis Scott hovering, he’s staying on the wing for the medium term at least.
Which good. That position is a critical one in the modern game (as we wrote here) and getting an elite year out of him will be huge.
11. I will reference Josh Papalii’s try in the prelim at least 10 times
My god it was right in front of me and it was glorious. Read this again.
12. This will be BJs last season in Canberra
I love BJ. Possibly unhealthily so. BJ needs to get paid after his contract ends with the Raiders this season, and Canberra has shown their hand going forward with the signing on Curtis Scott. BJ is off somewhere in 2021, but it won’t be Canberra.
I’m already sad.
13. Curtis Scott will start the season on the wing
Because the Raiders still desperately need BJ’s yardage work and creativity. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends the season at centre.
14. Hudson Young will be a revelation.
Everyone got really cranky with Hudson for his eye-based errors last year. It meant a lot of people forgot how damn good he was, both in the middle and on the edge filling in for John Bateman.
Once he’s back from suspension, he’s going to be a revelation and a permanent fixture in the 17.
15. Dunamis Lui will continue to be the “opener”.
Lui reminds me an old school opener in cricket. Think Swampy Marsh, the greatest of them all. Lui’s job is to essentially to hear the brunt of a fired up opposition, take the shine off them and allow Sia and the Red Horseman to come on and dominate.
16. Bailey Simonsson will do something mind blowing.
I’m not sure what it is yet. I’m pretty sure he’s going to playing as the 14, at least initially. But the improvement in Bailey was so rapid in 2019. If he keeps that trajectory up the sky is the limit.
And something rad is going to happen.
17. George Williams will take a while
The switch from England is hard enough. To do it in the halves is even tougher. Give him time.
18. Sam Williams will play more than just origin filler.
I reckon George will get a mid season “break”, similar to Sezer last year. Sam’s handy to have in backup.
19. I’m going to profess my love for Josh Hodgson not once, not twice, but three times.
20. The Raiders will make the playoffs but won’t make it deep
Can’t you just see a situation where the Raiders are in everyone’s sights? Every game feels like a final. They cop a couple of injuries where they shouldn’t, and a young side falls back into the habits that cursed them in previous years? They slide into the finals on the back of their quality but are too beaten up to make a dent.
Actually. That’s too depressing.
20. The Raiders will go ALL THE WAY
See you in Sydney on the first weekend of October.
LET’S DO IT ALL AGAIN!!!