CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 17: Jordan Rapana of the Raiders celebrates scoring a try with team mates during the second NRL Semi Final match between the Canberra Raiders and the Penrith Panthers at GIO Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Predicted Finish: 10th

Actual Finish: 2nd (preliminary finalists)

Raiders 2021 Player Movements

2021 Gains
Corey Harawira-Naera (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, 2022), Ryan James (Gold Coast Titans, 2022), Harry Rushton (2023)
2021 Losses
John Bateman (Wigan Warriors), Luke Bateman (released), JJ Collins (released), Nick Cotric (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Jack Murchie (New Zealand Warriors)
Jarrod Croker (2024), Josh Papalii (2025), Jack Wighton (2024)
Off Contract 2020
Kurt Baptiste, Matt Frawley, Sebastian Kris, Darby Medlyn, Andre Niko, Kai O'Donnell, Michael Oldfield, Jordan Rapana, Iosia Soliola, Tom Starling, Jarrett Subloo

Despite having a bit of a soft spot for the Green Machine, I honestly couldn’t see them performing anywhere near the level that they did across 2016.

Jarrod Croker and BJ Leilua became the best centre pairing in the NRL, while Jordan Rapana and Josh Hodgson established themselves are genuine superstars.

Aidan Sezer added plenty of class to the Raiders halves and took pressure off Blake Austin, who himself had a very good season.

Up front the Raiders big men more than did the job, laying the platform for their all-star backline to run riot, seeing them finish second and with the most points scored across the season.

Best Player: Josh Hodgson

The Raiders number nine had a career defining season and very easily could have collected the Dally M medal as the best player across the 26 NRL rounds.
He became the main man in the Raiders title charge, and very well may have led them all the way if not for an injury that turned the momentum in the finals against the Sharks.

His 16 try assists, four tries and almost 35 tackles per game are all well-earned stats, but his importance goes well beyond that.

The ball movement was second to none in 2016 as Hodgson lead the side around. Everyone in the Raiders side improved around him. He was the centrepiece of the brilliant show that was the Raiders 2016 effort.

Season Highlight: 52-10 win over the Tigers in Round 26

The Raiders travelled to Leichhardt oval to play an in-form Tigers side knowing that a win would see them host the Sharks in the opening round of the NRL finals.

The Tigers themselves had plenty of motivation, needing to win to leapfrog the Titans into eighth place and return to finals footy for the first time since 2011.

On the day, however, there was only ever one side in it, and that was the red hot Green Machine, who piled on the points.

Not only did they win, and well, they did it in style, creating some genuine highlight moments in the process. The ease in which Leilua found Rapana with a ridiculous pass had to be seen to be believed.

They thumped the Tigers booking themselves a well-deserved home semi-final against the Sharks to cap off a brilliant regular season.

Best Recruit: Dunamis Lui

It was fairly obvious that the Raiders didn’t need a whole lot of movement in terms of their squad given the success enjoyed in 2016 and the fact the majority if the starting 17 were already locked away.

Dragons prop Dunamis Lui makes the journey south to the nation’s capital and looks like a good get for the men in green.

The 26-year-old Samoan international has 80 NRL first grade games to his name and may find himself coming off the bench for the Raiders in 2016.

Paul Vaughan found himself on the outer with coach Ricky Stuart and left for the Red V, meaning Lui made the trip the other way providing depth at a much smaller salary cap cost.

The Positives:

Everything: This may sound like an easy out, but 2016 was almost the perfect season for the Green Machine. Jack Wighton became more involved and looked more dangerous as a result. Rapana and Lee scored tries for fun. Leilua and Croker are two of the best centres in the game. Sezer and Austin lead a highlight reel of brilliance across 2018. Josh Hodgson is arguably the best number nine in the game. Shannon Boyd and co bossed opposition front rows around all season. Elliott Whitehead was one of the finds of the season. Ricky Stuart proved he is far from done when it comes to tactics and astute signings. The crowds were massive and loud. The only negative is that they didn’t win the title, and that may not be too far off.

Season Grading: A

The Raiders came within a single fumble of the ball of a Grand Final appearance, and from there, who knows.

Every player in the squad is now a better player entering 2017 than they were at this time last year, and much of the credit must go to Ricky Stuart for that.

He took a chance on a centre with many well-documented issues and Leilua rewarded him with a season of devastation. His partnership with Rapana was unstoppable at times.

They managed to keep the majority of their side together with only Lee and Vaughan, neither of whom were in the coach’s plans come crunch time, and therefore should be a brilliant chance of going one game further in 2017.

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