19 August 2020

What might have been? The eight greats who left the Raiders

| Tim Gavel
Join the conversation
John Bateman

It’s hard to fathom that John Bateman will be returning to the UK at the end of the year. Photo: Supplied.

In May 2014, it was announced that a young rising star from the Wests Tigers had signed a three-year deal with the Raiders. By June that player, James Tedesco, had back-flipped on the Canberra contract and opted to stay in Sydney.

At the time, Tedesco hadn’t set rugby league alight but the Raiders had identified him as a marquee player. His rejection was a bitter pill to swallow given the effort put into the signing only to have him pull out before even playing a game for Canberra.

Two years down the track and Tedesco made his Origin debut and was named the Dally M fullback of the year. By the end of 2019, having switched to the Roosters for the 2018 season, he had won his second premiership and was named the Dally M player of the year.

You can only imagine what might have been. I have placed Tedesco at number eight on the list of biggest departures from the Raiders even though he didn’t play a game for the Club.

Michael Weyman comes in at number seven on the list of greatest departures from the Raiders. After leaving the Raiders at the end of 2008 to join the Dragons, Weyman went on to play Origin the following year and won a premiership with St George-Illawarra in 2010.

At six, I have gone for Todd Carney. Carney went on to win the Dally M in 2010 with the Roosters after being sacked by the Raiders in 2008. He went on to be named the Dally M five-eighth of the year twice and was named the International Player of the Year in 2010. It has to be said the Raiders had no option but to part ways with Carney after a series of off-field incidents. This brings both Ferguson and Dugan to mind, although I haven’t ranked either of them in my top eight.

Coming in at number five was a player who won the Clive Churchill medal for the best player in the grand final. Twice. Bradley Clyde was forced out of the Raiders because of salary cap pressure in 1998 along with Ricky Stuart, who I have named at four in the list of departures.

It wasn’t so much what they did after leaving the Raiders, given Stuart only played 40 games for the Bulldogs and Clyde 36, but more the impact it had on the psyche of the Club with the departure of two of Canberra’s most loved players. They had given their heart and soul to the Club.

Both were local juniors, which made it all the harder to bear, as is the impending departure of another local junior, Nick Cotric.

At three in the list of greatest departures from the Raiders, I have gone for Ben Kennedy in light of what he was able to achieve after four seasons with Canberra. Kennedy went on to win a premiership with Newcastle and became one of the NRL’s top forwards at both the Knights and Manly.

Coming in at two, I have gone for John Bateman. In only his second season in the NRL, it’s hard to fathom that he will be leaving and returning to the UK at the end of the year. His presence on the field lifts the Raiders to a new level, as was evident against the Broncos, and there is a belief that whenever he is playing for Canberra, they are a chance of winning the premiership, such is his influence.

At number one in the list of greatest departures from the Raiders, I am going for Glenn Lazarus. Lazarus played in three grand finals in a row for the Raiders, winning two before heading to the Broncos in 1992, where he won another two premierships in 1992 and 1993. He went on to become the first player to win five premierships at three different clubs, winning his fifth with Melbourne in 1999.

It took years to recover from his departure.

What do you think of Tim Gavel’s list? Who did he miss?

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Jeff Mason, your eyes must be painted on. Stuart always gave 100% when he played and trained and Clyde never played a bad game, ever!

These two great players were sent on their way by a jealous CEO, Kevin Neill. And they never left for more money, as Neill reported to the media at the time because they were still on News Limited money from the Super League war.

But even though they were punted, and even when the captaincy was taken off him by CEO Kevin Neill, Stuart never bad mouthed Neill or the club. And neither did Clyde and he was probably even more hard done by.

In the early 2000’s Clyde was working at the Bulldogs in an administrative role when he was offered a defensive coaching gig at the Brumbies. The Bulldogs gave Clyde their blessing as long as it didn’t affect his work at the Bulldogs. Deal done.

Neill, still CEO at the Raiders, went to the media and bad mouthed Clyde. Clyde and the Brumbies parted company immediately.

Even in retirement Clyde’s life was being tormented by a vexatious Neill who gained nothing. A tirade from a person who contributed zero to the rugby league, and Canberra, community. Like Stuart, Clyde said nothing about Neill. This says a great deal about both men.

Stuart and Clyde should be remembered as outstanding local products who represented their city, state and country with pride. There should be statues erected to both of them standing alongside Meninga and Daley, such was their impact on the game and the Canberra community.

Neill, however, will only ever be remembered for opening a second rate Irish Pub and being a poster boy for diabetes.

Interesting list. I think the impact on the club has always been bigger than the impact they made after leaving with a few exceptions. I’ve always thought most players who left the Raiders rarely went on to do much more. Players like Zillman and Milford spring to mind. Shannon Boyd also. But some fringe players have forged a career, like Mark Nicholls, Mitch Barnett etc, but very few have gone on to be superstars for someone else. I’m going to be watching Nick Cotrics move. He is already an amazing player who IMO left for money. It will be interesting to see what the move looks like after a year at the dogs.

Bit harsh on Milford, he’s been injured and hardly played since he’s been in Brisbane

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.