Canberra Raiders got some infuriating news when it was reported by the Daily Telegraph that both Corey Horsburgh and Corey Harawira-Naera will appear in court in the near future on charges of driving under the influence. It’s frustrating news that will have potentially significant impacts on each player, but likely not substantially on the Raiders.
For Harawira-Naera, it’s the kind of mistake that, if it doesn’t cost him his contract, will have him walking on eggshells. When the Canberra Raiders took on Corey Harawira-Naera, much was made of his desire to reform, repent and recapture his flagging football career. The Raiders were giving him a second chance one that many were not sure he deserved. He barely made it six months before Canberra are having to consider whether they made the right choice. I don’t think he should be sacked (but nor was I certain he should have been signed), and Coach Stuart has noted he intends to stand by him, but one could understand if an alternative decision is made. Here’s hoping Harawira-Naera realises that if he’s not on his last chance, he needs to change his behaviour.
For Horsburgh it’s upsetting given his potential to take 2021 by storm, as well as his probable personal desire to get back on the park after a injury riddled 2020. It’s the first incident for Horsburgh, and therefore is a different situation from Harawira-Naera, but it will still affect his career, not just with the Raiders, but in terms of setting him back from making the Queensland squad this upcoming season.
On the park there’s not a problem for the Raiders in filling these gaps if the NRL integrity unit decides games on the sideline are an appropriate punishment. Hudson Young already deserved the starting back row, something that we’ve been making the case for, and now he’ll likely get a chance to make that position his own over the opening rounds of the competition. He’ll get a chance to build on the relationship he started with Curtis Scott on the right edge in 2020, and if they’re successful early on there will be little impetus for Stuart to mess with it. They’ve still got depth behind him in Joe Tapine, or young(er) guns Harry Rushton and Darby Medlyn if necessary.
Harawira-Naera could find himself battling for minutes with Horsburgh and the rest of the middle forwards. If the integrity unit rubs them out for any period of time, it will put them very much at the back of the pack (literally and figuratively). Ryan James, Ryan Sutton, Emre Guler and Siliva Havili all now have the chance to step ahead of Horsbrugh and Harawira-Naera, if only in the short term. The Raiders roster management has been impeccable, and allows them to handle a situation like this.
While the on-field product shouldn’t suffer, people will ask questions about the culture of the club. These, and the Scott and Starling incidents were all alcohol related, and this makes four such incidents in around 12 months. These incidents are not all created equal, but given the Raiders are gearing up for potentially their biggest season in decades, it is disappointing that they’re having to deal with off-field discipline issues. Sticky has undoubtedly done a lot to build a football and family focused environment over his time, and this will present a challenge I’m sure he’s keen to address.
This isn’t the end of the world, and in the past Raiders’ players have proved their maturity after similar incidents. Hopefully this is the final time this lesson must be learnt by this side.