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?