A decision made in yesterday’s release of the top 30 which may have no bearing on 2023, but plenty of the future of the Raiders is the retention of Adrian Trevilyan.
We had been myopically focused on his position in the Canberra squad of late. Here was a brilliantly talented hooker, just starting to find his way into first grade, who seemed to be without a contract for 2023 (as per every list you can find on the internet). He combined every best bit of the Raiders other options at the position, without any of the negatives (or at least that we’ve seen). Combine that with the blessing of both the late legend Peter Mulholland and Josh Hodgson and it was unfathomable that a player with such obvious upside could be let go.
But then again, Milk is going to Milk. After he spent so much of 2022 on the injured list, and NRL Physio revealed that he would be spending much of 2023 out with shoulder and knee reconstructions, we started to worry. Then Canberra reportedly signed the medium-floor low-ceiling Danny Levi and we couldn’t help but get a bit of anxiety. Would the Raiders really let a talent at hooker go because a young body was still finding it’s way?
Thankfully sanity prevailed. Kudos to Joel Carbone and Don Furner for maintaining the long-term vision as the priority. They could have let him go and hope to keep a watchful eye on him. They could have got cute and put Trevilyan on the development roster, paid him less, and risked a more forward-focused team come and snatch him away with a top 30 contract and promises of a better future. But instead they kept him in the Canberra family. If we knew what that contract looked like it would be helpful, but here’s hoping whatever the terms it’s part of a plan to keep him at the club.
Trevilyan will be given time to get healthy over 2023, and hopefully be ready to play NSW Cup footy towards the back half of the 2023 season (note: I am not a doctor and know nothing about the timeline for him getting healthy). This will put him in place to be a bigger part of the 2024 first grade squad, potentially alongside his long-time colleague Bradley Schneider. It’s a patient timeline.
This is not without risk. The Raiders have had to make a sacrifice to keep Trevilyan on the roster. Four hookers is more than is needed – three plus a Matt Frawley part-timer would normally be plenty plenty. It means that Canberra haven’t been able to seek assurance at other positions, most notably in the backup edge forward and lock positions. That the Milk are willing to paper over the cracks at those positions with Trey Mooney and Clay Webb prominently involved should tell you how highly they rate them, but also the potential they seen in Trevilyan.
Danny Levi’s signing makes more sense in this context. He’s certain and solid cover until it’s clear that Trevilyan’s body is right. He provides third string emergency cover to Tom Starling and Zac Woolford for 2023. And then, should Trevilyan get healthy, more complicated discussions take pace. Tom Starling already has an option in his favour for 2024. I don’t know, but would happily bet a lobster that when Levi’s deal is confirmed it includes a team option for 2024. In short, flexibility for the Milk to keep Trevilyan, and hopefully Starling.
This is typically an imperfect solution to an impossible situation. Risking a talent like Trevilyan leaving the club is suicide, particularly given the effort that went in to getting him, and the difficulty there would be attracting a replacement of similar potential. But there’s no doubt having to carry Danny Levi while they wait for Adrian’s body to get right is a short term limitation on a squad that needs to maximise every angle in order to compete. There was no choice but to pursue the approach Carbone and Furner have chosen. It’s not efficient or without risk in the short term, but the long-term focus is sound.
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