So here we go again: Brimming with optimism after a lengthy off-season filled with talk that the players are fitter than they were this time last season. Another cause for optimism is more about hope than anything else; hope that the side has learned from the pain of last season with three losses by two points or less to start their campaign.
This pre-season seemed to go longer than in previous years, although I am pretty sure I had the same feeling last pre-season. This pre-season included some speculation over the possible makeup of the side for round one, including wondering about who will start at five-eighth or fullback.
But surely this isn’t normal behaviour? It is, however, what we do as Raiders supporters as many on the Greenhouse website will attest.
We scan the news each day in the hope that one of our players hasn’t been caught up in off-field drama that could derail the season before it even starts. This is despite believing that our players wouldn’t be caught up in any drama: there is also a sense of relief to get through the pre-season unscathed.
We secure whatever snippets of information about pre-season training that we can. Who has been performing well, which younger players have impressed, is Ricky happy?
Everything, even a negative, is turned into a positive: Jordan Rapana gets injured playing for New Zealand; initially, this is devastating news, before speculation turns towards a potential replacement. Michael Oldfield played well last season, so all is not lost.
Then you look at the draw.
Three games in 12 days to start the season: Is this a disadvantage? Is the NRL treating the Raiders unfairly? Is this a positive or a negative? I am sure we can find a positive there, but it might take a few days.
Focus then turns to make sure there are no conflicting social events on at the same time the Raiders are playing home or away.
After going through this process I am then reminded that if I am not calling the game I get so wound up that I find it hard to watch. I’ll go for a walk in the middle of close games in the hope that when I return a couple of minutes later, the Raiders will have either extended or maintained their lead.
Or a miracle has occurred with a stirring comeback such as the one against the West Tigers last season.
You then remember how your mood is affected by a win or a loss and how many days it takes to recover before becoming optimistic about the following weekend. From memory, it is usually Tuesday. After a close loss, it can extend to Wednesday.
A win puts you in a good, uplifted frame-of-mind for the entire week. You can start daring to believe and head happily to Twitter to express your feelings. After a loss, it is best to stay away from social media.
As you can gather, being a Raiders supporter carries you through a range of emotions and the season hasn’t even started yet.