The Canberra Raiders have every right to be steaming mad with Curtis Scott. Just days after they let BJ Leilua, a superior player, walk out the door with a year left on his contract and multiple left in his prime, the ostensible replacement Scott has been arrested for a range of offences stemming from a big night out in Sydney. The Scott gamble has come up snake eyes. Only time will tell if it can be salvaged.
Bringing Scott on board was always going to be a risk. He has potential, but he’s yet to reach it at the elite level. In getting him they were effectively letting an older, but better, player leave. The thinking about this decision was that the Milk are keen to be a contender for years, rather than just 2020. The long game had merit; but thats now at risk because of Scott’s behaviour.
The range of charges listed against Scott are serious. I’ve no understanding of what the likely outcome from either a legal perspective or from the NRL integrity unit’s view. It seems at the very least likely that he will miss games, which means the Green Machine won’t just be looking for a replacement for Leilua, but also a replacement for the replacement.
Weeks of preseason work to build a combination with Cotric on the right is now up in the air. The most likely outcome is Cotric shifts to centre, with Michael Oldfield filling in outside him. Maybe Harley Smith-Shields will have to be ready.
It makes a mockery of any attempt to build continuity, with only Charnze and Croker likely to be in the positions they ended 2019 in. Any amount of games without their best 17 is bad, but given the likely toll that Origin will take on them this year, not being able to put your best 17 in place for any other part of the season is hardly ideal. It could have a real impact on the Raiders premiership hopes. The Green Machine can ill afford to start slow. This makes their job that much harder.
It’s the kind of news a team that wants to be a serious player for the premiership simply doesn’t want. This is not Josh Hodgson harmlessly (to sentient life at least) jumping through a door. This involves the judgment of the law. It puts at risk the Raiders short term, and potentially long term success for an entirely avoidable situation.
I’m hoping this is but a blip on a long career in green for Scott. We all make mistakes – lord knows I’ve made plenty with alcohol in my blood, though not with the same legal or professional ramifications. I hope he learns from this. I just hope the lesson doesn’t cost the Raiders 2020.