After the release of the 2019 Blumers Lawyers Canberra Raiders Cup First Grade draw, we take a look at the Round 1 fixtures and see what the big talking point is for each side.
Goulburn Workers Bulldogs: The returns of Mitch and Tyler Cornish at Workers Arena could push the Bulldogs into serious finals contention. They face a tough proposition in Round 1 but in front of a vocal home crowd, they have an opportunity to show how high the ceiling is for this side.
Queanbeyan Kangaroos: How do the Kangaroos replace Brent Crisp? We’ll start to get a bit more of an idea after this match but the additions of James Ulrick and Tre Williams will go some way to solving this. Entering his tenth season as head coach at the club, Aaron Gorrell will have a plan and with three Premierships already under his belt, the chase for a fourth will be his highest priority.
Tuggeranong Bushrangers: Justin Giteau did an incredible job during his spell at the club. Can the return of Jarrad Teka as coach help them go one step further? Jarrad Kennedy joins the club to help in their push to claim their first ever Premiership but coming off an ACL injury, how will he fare during the early stages of the season?
West Belconnen Warriors: Former Premiership winning coach Adam Peters takes over at the Warriors and he is joined by experienced halves Brent Crisp and Bobby Roberts. The Warriors showed glimpses of brilliance in 2018 but these additions could help the club improve next year.
Woden Valley Rams: The reward of Woden’s success provides a unique challenge for the club as a number of their talented juniors have been recognised for their performances. These players alongside coach Ash Barnes have been named for the Canberra Raiders Under 20’s, providing new head coach Lincoln Withers some tough selection choices for Round 1.
Yass Magpies: Cam Hardy takes the reigns at the Magpies for their 100th season after they missed out on finals football last season. The big question for Yass is how will they replace the Warner brothers? Tom and Ben’s departure depletes their forward stocks, especially after Tom’s outstanding performances which saw him named as the joint Les McIntyre Medalist in 2018.
Queanbeyan Blues: The Queanbeyan Blues started well but fell away quickly last season once injuries struck. Their Premiership defence was feeble and it will be interesting to see how they line up in Round 1. Their Under 18 side was near unstoppable in 2018 and it will be exciting to see how many members of that squad can make an impact in First Grade after getting a taste last season.
Belconnen United Sharks: The additions of Glen Buttriss, Sam Mataora and Tevita Aroha-Tuinauvai are great signings for the Sharks but the question mark is can the side improve enough to challenge for finals after a winless 2018?
Gungahlin Bulls: Can Gungahlin convert their end of season form into 2019? They start their season with two competition points due to the bye but face a tough prospect in Round 2 against last year’s Preliminary Finalists, West Belconnen.