Former Raiders in NRL Grand Finals

BY JB

The ultimate result for all Raiders fans is to make a Grand Final, but as we all know, that’s a pretty rare achievement.

We’ve only made six of them in 40 seasons of our history.

So if we can’t be there ourselves, is it not better to cheer on our former Raiders? You might not have been cheering for every player on this list, but there are some legends among them too.

So let’s look at all the players in the last decade that have left the Raiders and then gone on to play in a Grand Final for their new clubs.

Mark Nicholls (2021)

Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images

What a story for the Canberra Raiders junior. There is probably no player on this list that we can be more proud of in terms of sticking with it and improving himself.

Mark played 19 games for the Raiders between 2012 and 2015 and a lot more games for our reserve grade side, Mounties. He has self confessed that he wasn’t putting in the hard yards as much as he should of while he was at the club and enjoyed the beers more than putting in extras.

His next move was to the Storm but again he struggled to make his mark in first grade and only played seven games for them in two seasons.

Fast forward to 2021 and he has now played 109 first grade games and is affectionately known as the “GOAT” by rugby league fans everywhere. He is now a club captain and at 31 years old, is a valuable veteran in their forward pack.

We wish him all the best this Sunday.


Scott Sorensen (2021)

Photo by Simon Watts/Getty Images

You might not hear as much about this bloke, but there will be two former Raiders in the Grand Final this weekend and this bloke flies well under the radar.

The 28 year old Cronulla junior has certainly taken the long route for his career having debuted for the Sharks in 2014 as a 21 year old. He only made three appearances for the Sharks that year before he was snapped up the Rabbitohs but failed to play in the top grade in 2015.

That led him to the Mounties where he played NSW Cup and earnt himself a contract with the Raiders in 2017. He came off the bench against the Sharks in Round 2 but only played one more game in first grade for the Milk.

He was biding his time in Mounties waiting for his opportunity and made the NSW Cup Team of the Year and earned himself a deal back at the Sharks where he would play another 39 games over the next three seasons.

Fortunately for Scott, he signed with the Panthers in 2021 and has made himself an invaluable interchange player and a critical member of their side. He’ll come off the bench in the big dance on Sunday and we wish him all the best.


Brenko Lee (2020)

Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

It’s hard to believe Brenko Lee is still only 25 years old.

The bustling outside back from Logan in Queensland was a prodigy in the Raiders juniors making his U20’s debut as a 16 year old and scoring tries for fun in the National Youth Competition.

In 2014 he made his highly anticipated first grade debut for the Raiders as a 19 year old. A mixture of injuries, form and bad luck, Brenko only played 19 games in green between 2014 and 2016 scoring 12 tries. He was offered a good deal at the Dogs the following season but never kicked on.

Moving on again, he played two seasons at the Titans before landing at the Storm in 2020 and completing the dream season. With COVID chaos all around him he won a Grand Final ring with the Storm and then made his Origin debut alongside his cousin Edrick Lee.


Blake Ferguson (2018)

Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

A cheeky 20 year old Blake Ferguson left the Sharks after 42 appearances claiming he wanted to join a Premiership winning team.

Unfortunately for us that never happened at the Raiders during his three year term with us that netted him 36 tries in 60 games.

After making his Origin debut at the Raiders, off field incidents forced him out and he ended up at the Chooks in 2015 after sitting out the 2014 season due to an impending court case.

His last season at the Chooks landed him his Grand Final ring when they beat the Storm in 2018.

Fortunately for us he wasn’t a part of the back to back premierships for the Roosters when they beat us in the 2019 Grand Final. He was already at the Eels. He’s recently announced his retirement from the NRL and will try his luck at rugby union.


Shaun Fenson (2017)

Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images

This is one of the saddest Grand Final stories for one of the Raiders favourite sons.

After captaining the Raiders U20’s side to a grand final win in 2008, Shaun Fensom went on to play 139 first grade games over the next eight seasons.

Unfortunate salary cap pressure forced him out of the club and he landed at the North Queensland Cowboys in 2017.

The Cowboys went on a fairy tale run from eighth position to make an unlikely grand final berth.

The worst was to come after Fensom broke his leg in the third minute of the game when he collided with team mate Ethan Lowe. He broke his tibia and fibula.

As tears streamed down Raiders and Cowboys fans faces, Fensom gestured a thumbs up to the crowd as he left the pitch on a stretcher.

It was later reported that he text his team mates from hospital later apologising after they lost the game.

He had nothing to apologise for. This man bled for his teams.


Anthony Milford (2015)

Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images

The Milf was the great hope for Raiders fans everywhere so you’re all certainly forgiven for not getting excited about the fact he made his first Grand Final the year after he left us.

Milford played 42 games over two seasons in 2013/14 – setting the Raiders attack alight many times over.

He got home sick for Queensland and the reporteldy $900,000 a season offer from the Broncos was enough to move away.

After a season where he played all the Broncos 27 matches, he took them all the way to the big dance against the Cowboys in that grand final.

Had the result gone the other wat he might have won himself a Clive Churchill Medal according to many.


Ryan Hinchcliffe (2012)

Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images

A country boy from Temora in the NSW Riverina, the Raiders were the logical club of choice for Ryan Hinchcliffe.

At the Raiders he played alongside his brother in law Josh McCrone who married Ryan’s sister. Both men were from Temora. Making his NRL debut in 2007, he played 21 games for the green machine over the next two seasons as a utility bench player and hooker.

Craig Bellamy lured him south and he was part of the 2009 premiership which was stripped away from the club along with their 2007 title due to salary cap breaches but finally got his legitimate win in 2012.

In their 2012 Premiership year, Hinchcliffe was a valuable utility member of the squad. Throughout the season he played mainly off the bench but also started at lock, second row and hooker at various points of the season.

The Storm cruised through the finals beating Souths (24-6) and Manly (40-12) before taking on the Dogs in the big dance. There was an injury cloud over Cameron Smith in the lead-up to the game which could have put Hinchcliffe in the #9 jersey but he came off the bench in the 14-4 victory.


Michael Robertson (2011)

Photo by Matt King/Getty Images

Michael Robertson is from Wellington in country NSW, but played his junior footy for the Valley Dragons in Canberra.

He worked his way through the grades and made his NRL debut for the Raiders in 2001 before going on to play 59 games for the club and scoring 15 tries.

His move to Manly proved to be a very profitable one for Robertson, making the 2007 grand final with them in his second season but going down to the Storm. He had his revenge in 2008 when he scored a hat-trick in the 40-0 grand final demolition of the Storm!

He proved to be a mainstay on their left wing and played 139 consecutive games for them after his club debut. He played in the finals in all six seasons with the club.

He announced he was leaving the club in 2011 to play for the London Broncos in the Super League but not before he won another grand final ring on the sting.


So there you have it. Eight former Raiders have played in grand finals for other clubs after leaving us in the last decade and we made one ourselves with 11 members of that Grand Final team still in the Raiders squad today.

Which was your favourite grand final story? Let us know in the comments.

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