9 November 2021

It's about time: Raiders fans the big winners in the 2022 NRL draw

| Tim Gavel
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Raiders fans

Looks like a great season ahead in terms of home games. Photo: Canberra Raiders.

For years the Canberra community, not just the Raiders, have pleaded with the NRL to avoid scheduling nighttime games at Canberra Stadium during the winter months.

Put simply, fans are reluctant to head out into the cold and understandably so.

In announcing the 2022 draw, the NRL has responded with seven home games from 29 May to be played in the afternoon in Canberra.

One of those games is at 5.30 pm against the Panthers, but we will count it as an afternoon slot.

There will only be four genuine night games at Canberra Stadium, starting with the opening round against the Sharks on Friday, 11 March against the Sharks at 6 pm.

The Raiders will also take one of their home games to Wagga Wagga when they face the Melbourne Storm in round five on Saturday, 9 April.

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The game, to be played a week before Easter, has been moved away from the Wagga Wagga Gold Cup race meeting in May.

It’s a fitting reward for Wagga Wagga after this year’s game was played in front of a restricted crowd because of COVID, while the 2020 fixture was called off.

The Raiders will do plenty of travel, with games scheduled in Dubbo and Mudgee. There is only one five-day turnaround, the Thursday night game against the Cowboys after Saturday’s match in Wagga Wagga.

Another irritant for Raiders fans has been the lack of free-to-air television coverage.

In 2022 the Raiders are poised to become the ‘new Broncos’, with eight games on Channel 9, including home matches against Parramatta and the Roosters. There are also home games against big drawing teams Manly and the Dragons.

Souths and the Broncos are the only traditionally big drawing teams who won’t be playing in Canberra next season.

For the first time in many years, there is little to complain about in this draw if you are a Raiders fan.

It will simply add to the expectation heading into next season.

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Retire Ricky Stuart and you may have a chance

Pretty good draw for a Canberra based fan. Beyond ordinary if you live in Sydney. One game at Penrith and one at Leichardt for the year.

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