Josh Hodgson knows better than most that to win a premiership it takes more than the 13 players on the field at any given time.
Canberra was able to maintain their place in the top four for much of 2019 because of their supporting cast, many of whom were unknown to much of the NRL before this season.
Every club is able to unearth a new star or two annually, but Hodgson reckons the Raiders have managed to trap lightning in a bottle repeatedly.
"In the offseason the development of big red (Corey Horsburgh) and Hudson (Young) has been really impressive," Hodgson said.
"There's other kids who have been unlucky not to play more. Jack Murchie is another guy who played for us last year but has been kept out with a wrist injury and he's not just had a chance because of that and the depth.
"When you're in a position where you’re winning more games than you're losing an you're in a good position on the ladder you can blood those kids and give them more game time."
Try of the week
While not a rookie to the Telstra Premiership, arguably the biggest success story for the Raiders has been fullback Charnze Nicol-Klokstad.
Having played a handful of games with New Zealand, the 24-year-old has impressed the Raiders enough for them to offer him a new deal.
"He's one of the most professional kids I've met to be honest," Hodgson said.
"He comes in with his food all weighed and boxed up and he writes down all of his notes on all of the days he's training so he can have his preparation all sorted.
"It's no surprise he's been so good and consistently so for us this year which is nice to see for a young kid who gets his chance and he's taken it."
Hodgson said injuries to key players during the year had been a "blessing".
Now rather than guessing on what some of the younger's players potential might be, he has been able to see up close in crucial game situations.
"We have had a lot of injuries this year, but it's been a blessing in disguise for us," he said.
"We had a number of guys who had to step up to the plate and get some game time under their belt that probably didn't expect at the start of the year.
"That's really helped us in the back of the year. The boys have come in this year have done a fantastic job and we're going to need 17 more than likely."
Pierce pumped for grand final experience
Despite the much-improved defence and the ability to score points against almost any team, it's the intangibles that often get a side across the line in September.
Those include being genuinely good mates with everybody in the team, something the Raiders are.
Hodgson said the closeness of the squad can't be understated.
"People often talk about having a tight-knit bunch and mateship and sometimes that gets tossed out without people really understanding what that means," he said.
"I think what we have down here is a lot of people not from here, there aren't many Canberra boys playing for us, we're all living away from our families and most of us have small families.
"So, we can all rely on each other if one of us needs something and that makes you as close as what we are."
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