NRL Rd 10 - Sharks v Raiders
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 15: Raiders celebrate a Brad Schneider try during the round 10 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium, on May 15, 2022, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Former Brisbane Broncos and New Zealand Warriors winger Denan Kemp believes that the Canberra Raiders will need an X-factor player in their spine next season.

Although the Raiders managed to make the top-eight and would nearly advance through to the semi-final after a good performance against the Newcastle Knights, their spine lacks the star power of other clubs.

This is set to get worse with the club as they will lose Jack Wighton next season and will also lose playmaker Matt Frawley to overseas Super League team, the Leeds Rhinos. They have also continually struggled to cement a hooker in the number nine position and a fullback at the back of the field.

The Jordan Rapana and Seb Kris duo have done an excellent job in the fullback role. However, they are far from the star power of the likes of Kalyn Ponga, Reece Walsh, Dylan Edwards and James Tedesco.

“Considering their roster, they had a solid year,” Kemp said on SEN 1170.

“I do think Ricky Stuart is going to have to take a big risk on a spine player.

“Whether it's a six or a one, he is going to have to pay overs for the best young gun coming through or overs for a current standing (player).

“I don't think you are going to get a current superstar to go there.

“Imagine if Kalyn Ponga was playing for the Raiders the other day? They would've won by 13 points plus.

“You have to go to a 17-year-old guy coming out of school and take a punt.”

The Canberra Raiders have only made one signing for next season, with Newcastle Knights outside back Simi Sasagi joining the roster. 

Headlined by Matt Frawley and Jack Wighton, five players have left the club, with Jarrod Croker retiring, Brad Schneider joining the Penrith Panthers, and Semi Valemei joining the North Queensland Cowboys - the latter two joined with their respective clubs during the mid-season deadline.

In the spine positions for 2024, the Raiders have Sebastian Kris, Jordan Rapana, Chevy Stewart and Xavier Savage on their books for the fullback role, Danny Levi, Adrian Trevilyan and Zac Woolford as number nine, and Jamal Fogarty and Ethan Strange as the only two playmakers.