With the NRL’s silly season officially declared open, we’re relaunching Smart Signings to bring some sanity to the madness. We’ll dissect where clubs are weak, what they need to improve and where they might find it. No rumours, just stats, profiles, and insights.
Ricky Stuart begins his eleventh season with the Canberra Raiders, knowing things need to improve. He understands his side can’t rely on luck as they ranked poorly last year. Their squad consists of old and young players, with veterans in their final year and young players trying to make their mark. The team has had mixed performances since making the Grand Final in 2019.
Wighton, Croker, and Frawley are leaving, while Smithies, Weekes, and Sasagi arrive. While this may seem confusing, Stuart may be looking to transition the team to a new, young group while maintaining a competitive edge. Their junior ranks seem promising, and by adjusting strategies, the team could see improvement in the future. The spine of the team is undergoing changes, and 2025 plans may involve finding new striking players.
There are still uncertainties as to who will fill key roles. The team lacks creativity in its playing style and struggles in terms of line breaks, putting them in an offensive disadvantage. The focus may be on embedding new spine players and enhancing the forward pack in the coming years. Riki, a marquee backrower, seems promising with his impact and defensive capabilities. The financial aspect is also considered when discussing potential new signings, and several options within reach are identified, including those in the Super League.