Raiders keen to make Canberra NRL fortress

Canberra are intent on making GIO Stadium the NRL fortress it was in the 1990s, when they claimed two premierships with then superstar halfback – now coach – Ricky Stuart.

The Raiders had a woeful home record last season, winning just three from nine matches in the nation’s capital.

They had better success on the road with seven victories in a dozen games to finish 10th.

Their 2016 starts with back-to-back fixtures at home, starting on Saturday against Penrith and then Sydney Roosters next week.

And the importance of walking away victors isn’t lost on enforcer Josh Papalii.

“We’ve definitely had a talk about it,” he said.

“Sticky’s (Stuart) talked about back in his days and how they made Canberra a real hard place to come.

“Hopefully we can take it back to the olden days.”

The last time the Raiders won a premiership, in 1994, they were undefeated at the ground – winning 11 from 11 games.

The year of their previous title, they lost just two from 13 homes games.

Even when they missed the finals in 1992, having finished 12th, they still managed nine victories in 11 home games; their 1-10 win-loss away record proving their downfall.

Given they were one of the league’s best attacking sides in 2015, Papalii said defence was key to ensuring their bad run at GIO didn’t continue into the new season.

“Some games we were winning for 79 minutes,” he said.

“We fall asleep for that one minute and we lose.

“But, look, the boys are a bit different this year. The culture’s a bit tighter and everyone’s more keen to go out and do well for Canberra.”

The Queensland and Australian representative admitted there was some expectation on the team – both internally and externally – to make the top eight having narrowly missed the finals last year.

But he was said they were confident going into the first round after a solid trial in Orange.

“We just had that one trial and it just makes the boys more keen to run out and perform.”


*1990 – 10 wins, 1 draw in 13 home matches (premiership winners)

*1991 – 8 wins in 11 home matches (ladder finish: 4th)

*1992 – 9 wins in 11 home matches (ladder finish: 12th)

*1993 – 9 wins in 11 home matches (ladder finish: 3rd)

*1994 – 11 wins in 11 home matches (premiership winners)

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