15 October 2020

Raiders diehards ready to storm Lang Park

| Ian Bushnell
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Josh Shoudra and Peter

Josh Shoudra and father Peter after arriving in Brisbane on Wednesday for the Green Machine’s showdown with the storm. Photo: Supplied.

The Shoudra family of Franklin will be lime green from head to toe when they take their seats at the NRL preliminary final at Lang Park on Friday night.

The four of them arrived in Brisbane yesterday afternoon (14 October) donning Raiders hats, with their full supporters’ kit stowed away in their luggage.

By game time they will be green-haired and decked out in full Canberra Raiders regalia.

Last week after the Raiders’ epic semi-final win over their 2019 Grand Final nemesis the Roosters, the family – parents Peter and Kim, 20-year-old Jess and 16-year-old Josh – journeyed to Canberra Airport to greet the team on its triumphant return.

In an empty terminal the family in green turned security guards’ heads.

But the team bus honked and the team waved as they passed by.

Josh, unsurprisingly, says they are diehard fans.

When he was born, father Peter had Josh’s membership ready to go, and when the Raiders were off to Brisbane, so were they.

They’re looking for a similar result to last year, when the Raiders snuffed out the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Canberra Stadium to make their first Grand Final in 25 years.

They were there then, but this is, if not enemy territory, a long way from home.

The Shoudras are able to attend the Brisbane final because they didn’t go to Sydney for the nail-biter against the Roosters, instead staying at home to watch it on the big screen TV.

Josh says that game was the longest hour and a half ever.

”It was nerve-wracking, especially since we lost the Grand Final to the Roosters last year,” he says.

Josh and dad Peter in 2011

Always green: A young Josh Shoudra with dad Peter in 2011. Photo: Facebook.

How do we beat Melbourne?

Josh says the Green Machine can’t afford a bad start and need to lock up their halves and the man many love to hate, Cameron Smith.

Josh is one of them, and will be definitely giving him plenty from the sideline.

”Everyone says he should chuck on a referee’s jersey because he is always talking to the ref after every foul,” he says.

But the one to stop is fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen, who is always in support and has ”insane speed”.

Surprisingly, Josh’s favourite Raiders player is not star playmaker Jack Wighton or man-mountain Josh Papalii, but new young gun Tom Starling who stepped into the shoes of injured hooker Josh Hodgson.

Calling him a young Damien Cook (the Rabbitoh’s hooker), Josh says he has really stepped up and Hodgson must be mentoring him.

It hasn’t always been easy being green, and after many lean years, Josh is enjoying the Raiders’ success.

”It’s really good to see them now because growing up they weren’t a finals team,” he says. “I’m older now and I can understand it a bit better. It’s really good to see the Raiders in the finals and experience it with the family.”

If the Raiders ride the Storm, the Shoudras will join the rush for Grand Final tickets but, if unsuccessful, they will fire up the big screen for one massive party on 25 October.

Come Friday evening the family in green will ride to Lang Park, immersed in both the old and new Raiders team songs and then take up their corner seats, hopefully surrounded by a green army that has made the trek north.

For Josh, it’s going to be a long night.

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