The Canberra Raiders got a sneaky bit of bad news coming out of the weekends game when NRL Physio revealed a knee injury could keep Hudson Young out for the near future.
NRL Physio is a reliable source of information, but it’s worth noting that the club is yet to speak about it (that I’ve seen). Young managed to finish the game, but on the specific hit he was clearly in some pain. That he stayed on (with strapping) suggests it may not be serious, but only time will tell. Safe to say we’ll be watching the club twitter feed extra closely over the next few days. Team-list Tuesday will take on a bit more meaning this week.
Update: David Polkinghorne over the Canberra Times has reported that Hudson will not be going for scans. NRL Physio suggests this means it’s at worse a two game injury with still a chance he plays round 3.
If he is to miss games it would be a blow to the Milk. Young has been so strong in the first few weeks of this season, to the extent that in the last review we wrote that only injury would cause him to give up his starting spot in the back row (Sorry! *knocks wood, throws salt*). He’s been a rock in defence, matching in the brutal physicality of his middle brethren with intelligent decision-making and agility to clean up movements that have come his way. Given he is filling the role for the man that famously gave the Raiders edge defence starch, it’s stunning to see him be so immediately successful.
He’s also a handy carry in attack. We’re only two games in but he’s averaging more than 100m on the ground, five plus tackle breaks, a line break and a try, this season. He’s not the same player as the man that held that position through the past few years but he offers strong line running that George Williams should be taking more advantage of (and Josh Hodgson is). In short it’s crazy to say this, but given the relative depth of the Raiders at other positions, he already sits alongside (ok ok slow down, just below?) Jack Wighton as a player who’s specific production (or more accurately, his specific output) is impossible to replace.
The man who will likely get the job in Young’s absence is Corey Harawira-Naera. It’s not bad to replace a youthful star with an international. Thanks again Peter Mulholland, and thanks to the NRL for only suspending Coret two games. Harawira-Naera will likely provide a but more improvisation in attack, and it will be interesting to see if that provides opportunities for Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in second-phase play. I doubt he’ll be as safe in defence, and it will be a test for George Williams and Curtis Scott. I’ve no doubt the Warriors, and the teams that follow (the Titans and the Panthers), will target this edge. While I’d be surprised if it occurred, another option is to move Joe Tapine to that edge. This option was used at the beginning of 2020 when both Young and his English mentor were out. This is appealing given the endless middle depth available to the Raiders. But it feels suboptimal to move Tapine when he’s established such comfort and dynamism as a middle forward.
It’s not ideal, but it’s also not a problem yet. As NRL Physio has pointed out, there’s still hope Young will play in week three, but given the Raiders start to the season, and their longer term goals, it wouldn’t surprise me if they took a cautious approach. It’s amazing to say that just three weeks into the season that it’s clear that the Milk will miss him.
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