What's wrong with the Green Machine?

Sticking point: Playing under Ricky Stuart does not have the same attraction it used to for players. Photo: Melissa Adams
Sticking point: Playing under Ricky Stuart does not have the same attraction it used to for players. Photo: Melissa Adams
No thanks: Josh Mansour of the Panthers rejected a move to the Raiders. Photo: Melissa Adams

No thanks: Josh Mansour of the Panthers rejected a move to the Raiders. Photo: Melissa Adams

1. The round 13 rule is really a last right of refusal for clubs

When Wests Tigers were initially negotiating to keep James Tedesco, the Raiders weren't the only club they were competing with but once he agreed to terms with the Raiders it effectively became a two-horse race for his services. The Tigers did not improve their offer but they knew the value of Canberra's deal and were able to convince him that he would have at least two opportunities to make that money back through future contracts if he continued to live up to his potential. In addition, Tedesco was reluctant to leave the club after coming through the junior ranks with the likes of Luke Brooks and Curtis Sironen. "We haven't offered him any more money than we already had, but we made a point of not bagging him when he signed for Canberra, hoping he may still stay," Tigers chief executive Grant Mayer said.

2. Do the Raiders need a living away from home allowance to attract players?

Canberra has struggled to attract players since entering the premiership in 1982 and focused in the early days of its existence on recruiting the likes of Mal Meninga, Steve Walters, Peter Jackson, Gary Belcher and Sam Backo from the Brisbane competition. Raiders patron John McIntyre believes the club should be able to offer players an AFL-style living away from home allowance, like Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney Giants. "Twenty-five years ago, I made submissions for concessions in the cap for developing our own juniors," McIntyre said. "Not at any stage are we talking about our locally produced players getting anything other than market value."

3. TPAs are hard to come by in the ACT

Canberra may be Australia's capital but it has far more government departments than businesses, making it difficult for Raiders players to secure third-party agreement deals. As a result, Canberra was unable to compete with the Broncos for the services of star fullback Anthony Milford and will continue to lose players to rival clubs in bigger cities, including many of the top junior talent they have developed. The Raiders also seem to have more than their share of off-field issues – star players who quickly become big fish in a small pond – and have sacked the likes of Todd Carney, Joel Monaghan, Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson in recent seasons.

4. It's been a long time since the glory days of the Green Machine

The last of Canberra's three grand final wins was 20 years ago and for much of the past two decades the club has seemed to be in a constant rebuilding phase. Since the formation of the NRL in 1998, the Raiders have managed to qualify for the finals every second season but have never been considered genuine premiership contenders. That prolonged lack of success has been one reason some of the club's recruitment targets have not wanted to move to Canberra.Meninga, Matthew Elliott, Neil Henry and David Furner have all had varying degrees of success with Raiders teams they have coached but none have been able to get the best out of the talent in Canberra.

5. Ricky Stuart is no longer a lure for players

While it is merely coincidence thatTedesco is the fourth player in the past two seasons to get cold feet after signing to play under Ricky Stuart, there is no doubt the former Australian and NSW mentor needs to coach winning teams before players want to start playing under him enough to move to Canberra. Kevin Proctor also had a late change of mind about joining the Raiders, while Josh Papalli and Gareth Hock backed out of deals with Stuart to join Parramatta, and big name targets such as Greg Bird, James Tamou and Matt Scott also rejected his overtures. Since returning to the NRL coaching ranks last season, Stuart has overseen just nine wins from 36 matches in charge of the Eels and Raiders.

6. Canberra's desperation is inflating the player market

Teammates were telling Tedesco last week that the additional $500,000 he stood to earn in Canberra over the next three years was too good to refuse and McIntyre admits the Raiders have always had to pay about 20 per cent more to poach or retain star players. "Market value has a completely different value when everyone wants to live along the beach," McIntyre said. As a result, Melbourne and Penrith have respectively had to pay over the odds to keep Proctor and NSW Origin wing contender Josh Mansour after both received lucrative offers from the Raiders.

with Adrian Proszenko

Hits and misses: Stuart’s recent strike rate attracting talent


Greg Bird: One of Stuart’s first targets at Parramatta but decided against a move to the Eels and signed a four-year deal with the Titans.

James Tamou: After forging a relationship in Blues camp with Stuart, Tamou turned down an offer to join him at Parramatta.

Matt Scott: Turned down a $2million offer from the Eels to remain at the Cowboys early last season.

Israel Folau: Was forced to sign with the NSW Waratahs after ARLC refused to register Folau’s contract with the Eels.

Peter Wallace: Rejected interest from the Eels to return to Penrith after a lengthy stint with the Broncos.

Gareth Hock: Reneged on a two-year deal with the Eels to take up a contract with Salford in the English Super League.

Josh Papalii: Reneged on a three-year deal with the Eels to remain at the Raiders, linking with  Stuart in 2014.

Robbie Farah: Knocked back huge interest from Stuart and the Eels to remain loyal to the Wests Tigers.

Kevin Proctor: Having agreed to a deal with the Raiders for next season, Proctor had a change of heart at the 11th hour.

James Tedesco: Having signed a $2 million deal to join the Raiders, Tedesco reneged on the deal to remain at the Tigers.

Michael Ennis: Rejected a lucrative offer from the Raiders for 2015 to explore other options for next year.

Josh Mansour: Rejected a three-year deal from the Raiders for 2015 after Panthers tabled a revised offer to keep him.

Anthony Milford: Decided to take up contract with Brisbane despite Stuart’s best efforts to get him to renege on the deal.


Corey Norman: Was playing Queensland Cup after falling out of favour at the Broncos. Has performed well for the Eels.

Nathan Peats: Was playing mostly NSW Cup given limited minutes at South Sydney. Played strongly this season before it was cut short by a serious knee injury.

Lee Mossop: Was playing in the English Super League but is yet to play an NRL game due to injury. He has been named on the bench to make his first-grade debut in the clash with North Queensland at Pirtek Stadium.

This story What's wrong with the Green Machine? first appeared on Canberra Times.