The Canberra Raiders finalised their football and support staff for the 2023 season. There were several noteworthy aspects so here’s a quick grab bag of thoughts about the announced coaching line-up.
The most interesting aspect of the announcement (apart from the surprise of Josh Miller’s appointment) was the acknowledgement of the need for fresh ideas.
Raiders Head Coach Ricky Stuart said the addition of some new staff members in 2023 will bring some fresh ideas to the way in which the Raiders prepare for the upcoming season, and he looked forward to working with the new look team.from the club announcement
If not confirm, it at least adds weight to the claim we’ve made this off-season – that there was a need for new ideas at the club – and bringing new people around Stuart was a prime reason for change. The prime source of new ideas is official Michael Maguire. It’s interesting to see him as essentially part of three man team for the first grade squad. Mick Crawley has long been considered a offensive specialist, so my presumption is that Maguire’s focus will be on the other side of the ball, or at least more general than Crawley’s focus. As we’ve said I’ll be curious if he brings new ideas – that triumvirate of have a lot of shared history – but i’m hopeful.
It’s noteworthy that the number of coaches in the first grade set-up appears to be three – down from four last season. There’s no evidence that more coaches = better, and I suspect the Raiders felt that the experience of its three meant any additional voices would be inefficiently utilised.
I am really interested in the appointment of Chris Hutchison. The club said a new position of Elite Pathways Coach was explicitly created to support the development of younger players as they transition through the squads. I’m curious as to the specifics of his focus – is this helping young prospects transition to adult footy (i.e. NSW Cup), or aiding players like James Schiller, Albert Hopoate and Ata Mariota make the leap to the top level? Regardless, it’s pleasing to see the club take such a holistic approach, and provide a role that complements Stuart’s focus on the first grade squad.
The appointment of Josh Miller as wrestling coach – or contact coach – is a curious one. There is no one on earth that knows contact like this man. Just this week we wrote he was made of cement and as a player loved running into things. Add the wrestling skills that often come from Ju-Jitsu and I can see the logic. As far as I know he doesn’t have coaching experience, but it’s unfair to seek new ideas in the coaching structure and then chastise it in the same hand. In particular this is such a small role (it was part of a role before, now it’s one day a week) that the downside risk of getting it wrong is relatively low.
The club has brought across Josh Strahorn, the Brumbies speed coach, to take over as the head of the high performance team. He takes over from Jeremy Hickmans, who I thought did an exemplary job last season. Stahorn will do his most important work in the next few months. The Raiders got that preparation very wrong in 2021 and much more right in 2022. It made a big difference in their ability to keep pace with the game, and also potentially in their record in close games (they were 7-4 in games won by less than six points in 2022, and only gave up two double digit half-time leads – yay I guess – down from
a million eight in 2021). In addition to to his experience with the Brumbies, Strahorn also studied at the AIS (post grad) which only adds confidence that he’ll get the balance of training right to prepare the Green Machine for 2023.
As we noted recently, Joel Carbone has taken over the head of recruitment role previously held by the legendary Peter Mulholland and temporary Kelly Egan. These are massive shoes to fill. He’s had a mixed start, combining the A+ retention of Joe Tapine, the heist from the Dragons’ juniors with the low-risk, low-ceiling recruitment of Danny Levi. We’ll be watching closely to see what he does this off-season with the Milk’s remaining cap space. He’s supported Dean Souter in pathways recruitment (who may have been responsible for the Dragons’ juniors recruitment) and Dave Warwick on the elite side of things. Warwick appears to have spent time at Manly so maybe he might have an “in” there if the chaos surrounding that club turns into a thunderstorm.
I note the club – and other clubs – appear to be more transparent about the operations. This is the first time I can remember this sort of announcement, or this level of detail on the back-of-house appointments (correction: I was wrong! As GE the god from the Greenhouse has pointed out you can find all that detail here). While some of this is no doubt to with the appointment of “big name” in Michael Maguire, it’s also a useful baseline for future considerations. Before this announcement I had no idea of the structure of operation (and you know, I like to think I follow the pretty closely), and so by this time next year these pages will have a better idea of how things are working. While many would be tempted to assess the appointments are as successful, or not, now, we’ll reserve judgement for the time being.
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