Blues loss is Raiders gain: Furner

Manly v Raiders preview

He was dumped from the NSW State of Origin team just 24 hours after his side was beaten by Cronulla on the bell, but Canberra Raiders coach David Furner expects embattled five-eighth Terry Campese to take his frustrations out on a depleted Manly side at Brookvale Oval this Sunday.

Campese was the unlucky scapegoat for the Blues’ loss in Game One of this year’s Origin series two weeks ago with selectors naming veteran Trent Barrett in his place for next Wednesday’s must-win clash.

Furner said today that selectors had erred in dumping the Raiders star but insisted the 24-year-old would prove them wrong this weekend.

“From a selfish point of view, their loss is our gain,” Furner told NRL.com.

“I don’t know the thoughts behind [dropping him]. Especially with a halves pairing, they’re important positions and you need time… It’s a three-match series.

“But the decision has been made and Campo just has to get on with it.

“We’ve had a good chat and the beauty of rugby league is that you can right your wrongs in the space of a week.

“It’s a good challenge for him – Manly at Brookvale.”

Asked his thoughts on Campese’s performance in Game One, Furner said he was surprised that selectors had taken such a hard-line stance after NSW closed to within six points late in the game following a horror first half that saw them fall behind 24-6 at one stage.

“To be honest, I thought NSW looked the stronger side,” he said.

“They didn’t capitalise on a few chances with [Jarryd] Hayne and [Luke] O’Donnell getting over the line but they made metres and they came back to within six points in that second half.

“If a side is getting beaten convincingly I don’t think you can come back in that arena.

“But that’s rugby league – it happens sometimes.

“It’s not always a smooth run – there will be disappointments – and I think ‘Campo’ has bounced back quite well.

“There is definitely disappointment there but it’s part of growing up.

“Campo has been really enthusiastic at training and that’s a good sign.”

The Raiders find themselves in muddied waters following last week’s 24-22 loss to Cronulla and need a result against the Sea Eagles to stay in touch with the top eight.

They will be bolstered by the fact that Manly are without their five Origin players – Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart, Jamie Lyon and David Williams – but Furner said it remained to be seen how his own side responds from a disrupted week that saw Joel Monaghan called into the Blues squad yesterday and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs only return to Canberra yesterday.

“Tom trained with us for the first time last night,” he said.

“The difficult thing is not knowing who you’ve got for the weekend.

“If a player is selected straight-up then you know you don’t have them but with Tom and Joel we had to wait until yesterday to get confirmation.

“We just had to train as if they weren’t there and obviously Joel isn’t coming back.

“It’s not ideal but we’ve got Tom back, which is a good thing.”

Furner said the Raiders – who are now four points behind eighth-placed Newcastle – could no longer afford to let opportunities slip after wasting a 20-10 second-half lead against the Sharks last week.

“We have to be aware of that gap,” he said.

“Those two points at home last week coming off two wins before the bye – I think the players felt too comfortable that they were going to win and forgot to put in those little extra efforts.

“I believe that we’re a good side but we need to learn to be patient and to put in those extra efforts rather than always looking for the big play to win these games.

“Every two points is valuable and you can’t let that gap grow.”

Late news:


•    The Roosters are expecting Willie Mason to be fit to take on North Queensland tomorrow night after overcoming a knee injury. Sia Soliola is on standby.
•    The Bulldogs are now expecting hooker Michael Ennis to play against Penrith tonight with NSW hooker Robbie Farah’s rib injury showing improvement.