5 May 2021

Reports of internal division at the Raiders: we’ve seen it before and it’s often overstated

| Tim Gavel
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Josh Hodgson

Josh Hodgson has decided to stand down as co-captain. Photo: Canberra Raiders.

When a team isn’t performing to expectation, there are always rumblings of discontent. Sometimes it becomes public, exaggerated and unmanageable.

The Raiders are doing their best to contain the chatter but there’s no doubt off-field issues have spilled on-field.

Joe Tapine’s wife, Kirsten, posted a social media message critical of the amount of time her husband spent on the bench in the loss to South Sydney.

Then there’s uncertainty over Josh Papalii’s desire to return to being the number one prop in the game.

Third, there’s Josh Hodgson’s decision to stand down as co-captain, which took many by surprise.

And last but not least, the Raiders’ English halfback, George Williams, and his partner are homesick. There have been reports suggesting that he has sought a release.

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In the case of Tapine and Papalii, it has to be said, both have struggled to find form this season.

Papalii was rested for the game against Souths, with Ricky Stuart saying it was a mental break for Papalii in a bid to get him back to the way he was playing last year and the year before.

Papalii has commented in The Sydney Morning Herald that “football isn’t the most important thing for me right now”. That’s not helpful.

Tapine’s tendency to drift in and out of games is frustrating given his ability to be one of the most skilful, big forwards in the game.

Earlier in the week, there was talk of a rift between Tapine and Stuart, but this has been denied.

I have seen these issues raise their heads at the Raiders in the past.

Thirty years ago, before social media, players’ wives or family had no platform to voice their concerns.

That’s not to say there weren’t issues, but they were dealt with in-house, before they became a media firestorm. These days, even the most minor issues are amplified through social media.

There’s no doubt, though, the sooner even minor issues are resolved, the better.

Papalii and Tapine can consign chatter to history with strong performances this weekend against Newcastle.

The cases of Josh Hodgson and George Williams are different.

Williams and his partner are homesick, with COVID-19 limiting travel between the UK and Australia.

The Raiders issued a statement saying they were working to ensure the wellbeing of Williams and his partner.

George Williams

George Williams and his partner are homesick for the UK. Photo: Raiders.

Hodgson has struggled to recapture the form he displayed in 2019; much of it is due to injury, while fans have suggested that he is overplaying his play-making role.

Hodgson has stepped down as co-captain to focus on his own game, which has happened within teams plenty of times in the past but with little fanfare.

The problem this time is that it is compounded with other issues.

In a statement released by the Raiders, Hodgson said he was fully committed to the club dispelling reports that he was unhappy in Canberra.

“I can assure everyone that I remain fully committed to the club, and I’m looking forward to getting myself back to 100 per cent fitness and helping the team get their season back on track,” Hodgson said.

“I know internally we’re all working extremely hard to turn things around, and the playing group and staff have been fully committed to each other and the club.”

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There have been reports quoting anonymous sources from rival clubs suggesting they were ready to launch a raid on the Raiders’ playing stock amid reports of discontent.

Much of this is mischief-making.

While it is media fodder this week, it can be quickly put to bed with a victory against Newcastle on Saturday in Wagga Wagga.

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The Raider’s season is as good as gone now. All this rubish going on helps nobody.

Capital Retro3:09 pm 05 May 21

Maybe it’s time for a new coach.

Kicks direct to opposition fullback almost every time on fifth tackle are not productive.

The backline is usually standing flat when they should be deep and be able to run on to the ball. This is what the opposing teams that are beating the Raiders do.

Probably should give Ricky a call. Reckon he’d really appreciate that insight.

Capital Retro11:25 am 06 May 21

I’m glad you agree.

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