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Raiders calm over signings
While a number of Canberra Raiders fans have been growing more and more concerned by their club?s lack of signings in recent weeks, head coach Ricky Stuart has insisted he isn?t overly worried despite missing out on a number of targets. A disappointing season so far sees the Raiders currently languishing near the bottom of the NRL ladder and already out of the top-eight consideration with some gambling fans, and Canberra supporters are desperate to see their struggling squad bolstered.
The Raiders were dealt a huge blow when Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco pulled out on a lucrative deal with the club just days before the round-13 deadline, following a recent trend of players turning down moves to Canberra at the last moment. Tedesco?s decision came after Penrith speedster Josh Mansour and Bulldogs veteran Michael Ennis also declined to join the club, with Melbourne forward Kevin Proctor pulling out of a deal after verbally agreeing to sign for the club.
Stuart had stayed quiet on the recent spate of missed signings, but the coach finally addressed the issue and made it clear he would be continuing his aggressive recruitment approach. Stuart conceded he was aware of the fans concerns but wasn?t willing to sign players on a whim in a bid to produce some instant success.
"I just can't go out and rush into recruitment. What we do over the next two years here is to try and put us into a position for four to seven years down the track. It's a tough job. I'm as impatient as every supporter and fan out there, believe me. The hardest job is for me to stay patient."
With some Canberra fans believing players don?t find the Raiders under Stuart?s leadership as a tempting option, the Raiders boss insisted there were plenty of players eager to sign for the club, just not the right ones.
"We're not out there willy nilly, trying to get anybody and everybody. There's players out there that we're saying no to - that never gets reported. We are targeting some other players. It's not something we ever discuss publicly - the player managers do that for us."
While the Raiders are currently finding it hard to sign top quality players, there are more than enough reasons in this Canberra squad to give the fans something to look forward to. Barring a drastic turn in fortunes, the Raiders are going to find it hard to salvage anything from this season. If Stuart can eventually sign some fresh blood to add to a squad that already boasts a number of top level players, next season could see the Raiders right in the mix for a place in the NRL finals.
Missing out on the top-eight this season would make it two years since the Raiders were in the finals, but Stuart will want to make sure that when his side do return to the NRL?s top table that they have a squad capable of finally establishing themselves at the right end of the ladder.