The Canberra Raiders announced the extension of Brad Schneider and Elijah Anderson’s time at the club this morning. Schneider will be with the team until the end of 2023, and Anderson gets another year on a development deal. These may seem like small deals, but they provide good insight into the club’s thinking on a number of fronts.
Let’s start with the Schneider deal. He’s an emerging half plucked from Queensland who has had some good displays in NSW Cup, as well as a mere Subloo in first grade (stop trying to make fetch happen Dan). From limited viewing he seems a handy developing ball-player, happy to work mostly to the right of the ruck. As we’ve noted in the past, he’s proven willing to engage the line and create in traffic, something that has eluded all of Canberra’s full-time halves this year (including George – did you know at the time of his departure he had less line engagements than Lachlan Lewis on a lot more possessions?).
7 try assists and 6 line-break assists in 11 appearances is good strike rate when you consider that he hasn’t always been first choice half (such as when it was Sammy boy). He brings a handy defensive work ethic (near 92% tackle efficiency) and good goal kicking (73%), both skills Canberra will find handy in a halfback next year. His rangy, agile body could potentially play other positions. He’s filled in a hooker for the junior Milk, and Sticky went at pains to describe him as a ‘football player’ rather than harping on any skill relating to being a half, before his debut back in May.
In the last few weeks we’ve been sweating on this deal. Apart from his brief foray into the top-grade earlier in the year, Schneider hasn’t been seen in months. The lack of Cup footy hasn’t helped this. After George Williams left the club, our eyes have shifted outside in order to look for replacements, and the rest of us have been left looking at the lack of conversation or clarity around Brad, wondering if he’s the future, or if he would be leaving. The two-year extension is a good sign. He may not be ready for an immediate elongated role in first grade, but this deal indicates the club is thinking more in the long-term, and at half-back. As noted by Schneider in the club’s statement:
“The goal for me now is to try and get some more games in the NRL and play a few more minutes in those games and look to have an opportunity to play halfback.”Brad Schneider
It’s a good sign that Schneider thinks his role with the club is at halfback, and now we have a better idea of how the club might see his role going forward. It probably won’t be round one next year, but there’s a time coming where we’ll get to see whether Schneider’s skill set and potential will be a force in the top line.
In the meantime it means the club’s external search for a half for next year takes on a less permanent feel. The Raiders don’t need to sign the next star, because they might be able to build a (relatively) home grown one. Instead players like Brooks/Widdop/Taylor, who have their risks and rewards can be tried and used as they perform, providing a bridge to what might become in Schneider. It’s a bit more certainty and clarity about a path forward in what had been foggy trail.
On Elijah Anderson, it’s pleasing to see him get more time to prove his worth. Bringing him in was always a bit of a flyer; more work by Peter Mulholland to potentially find a diamond in the rough. While his initial descriptions (built like Greg Inglis) probably put a bit more expectation on Anderson than was fair, the NSW Cup’s temporary demise limited his ability to build towards those massive boots. Still, even without the ability to prove it on the field, he’s found his way into the starting 17 last week, and onto the first grade field. It’s quite an achievement.
Another year on development hopefully gets him more game time, both in Cup and potentially pushing for first grade. The Raiders have plenty of options in the back five, but as well as know, usually when you have a bunch of options it means you have no good ones. I don’t think that’s the case for Canberra, but there’s no doubt that a good season for Anderson (or anyone) could cement a place for him in the top 30 from next year on.
Neither Schneider, or Anderson, (or Trey Mooney, a mobile lock who signed on earlier this week) are certain to be stars in the next generation. But it shows that while the on-field product may not have met expectations this year, Peter Mulholland continues to do a stellar job in building the strength of Canberra’s squad through the next generation.