2017 NRL SEASON REVIEW: Canberra Raiders

Record: 11 wins, 13 losses
Ladder Position: 10th
Player of the Year: Junior Paulo

The Canberra Raiders 2017 season was one to forget for the club.  They were touted by many prior to the season to end their 22-year premiership drought this season but it was a familiar story for the Green Machine as they failed to live up to expectation.

After an incredible 2016 where they arguably should have made the Grand Final at the very least, the feeling around the club heading into 2017 was full of confidence and ready to Viking Clap their way all the way to the Premiership.

The Raiders were one of the most inconsistent teams in the NRL this season and it showed in their win/loss record, they were simply not good enough and missed out on the finals by two games.

Close games
The Canberra Raiders lost 8 games by six points or less, which if they won two of those they would played in the finals. A season of what-ifs for the Raiders this season.

They lost to the North Queensland Cowboys in Golden Point in Round 1 which seemed to be the story of their season, so close yet so far. They started off the season in poor fashion only winning one of their first four and if history is anything to go by, you need to start the season all guns blazing.

The Raiders were beaten in Golden Point three times and lost the unlosable in Bathurst in Round 14 against the Penrith Panthers where they lead by 8 with two minutes remaining only to concede two tries in the final minutes to throw away two vital competition points.

There will be a big board review in the Nation’s Capital over the summer and tackling the ways to close out games will be a big agenda in the review.

Nick Cotric the golden boy

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The hot favourite for Dally M rookie of the year is breakout star Nick Cotric, who was one of the few shining lights for the Green Machine this season.

Cotric was simply brilliant, he scored 16 tries, made 17 linebreaks and 135 tackle busts in a season to remember for the classy winger.

The 18-year-old played in every game for the Green Machine and was arguably the best player for the Raiders all season.

Cotric was awarded the club’s and the Rugby League Player Association’s rookie of the year and many expect the youngest player in the competition to take out the Dally M rookie of the year to make it a trifecta of personal achievements.

Forward impact lacking
Something Canberra did so well in 2016 was punish sides with their big forward pack, unfortunately that wasn’t the case in 2017.

Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo were the competitions meanest prop pairing in 2016 and while they were good this season, they never reached the heights like they did last season.

Canberra’s impact of the bench was quite poor this year, their bench was ranked 15th for metres made and many questioned the impact from Luke Bateman and Clay Priest and why Dave Taylor wasn’t given more of an opportunity.

With Taylor departing the club they lose another big forward as their already skinny bench takes another blow.

Fixable problems
Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer were under the microscope all season and neither performed the way they would have liked to this season.

Ranked 16th in forcing repeat sets, Canberra simply did not apply enough pressure which was one of the reasons for their demise this season.

It’s a simple game, complete your sets and control possession and you will go a long way, however Canberra did not do enough of that this season as their completion rate efficiency was ranked at 15th.

Canberra were ranked 3rd for points scored but had the seventh worst defence, another area which must be addressed in the review.

All of these issues are fixable and if fixed by next season, the Raiders are a serious contender in 2018.

Gains: Erin Clark (New Zealand Warriors, 2019), Charlie Gubb (New Zealand Warriors, 2019), Liam Knight (Sydney Roosters, 2019), Michael Oldfield (Penrith Panthers, 2018)
Losses: Adam Clydsdale (released), Zac Santo (New Zealand Warriors), Jordan Turner (Huddersfield Giants), Dave Taylor (Toronto Wolfpack)

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