Despite the sour aftertaste of some Roosters fans booing Jack Wighton, Raiders CEO Don Furner says there's a lot of joy to come for Canberra following the NRL grand final.
The 14-8 result doesn't sit well with any in the Raiders camp and the jeering when Wighton accepted the Clive Churchill Medal still doesn't sit well with the club boss.
"It was poor, very poor, from those Roosters supporters. I thought it was bad sportsmanship from their fans," Furner told NRL.com.
"They were lucky to win the game and then they treated a Clive Churchill Medal winner, who has now been picked in the Australian team by the way, so badly.
"It's not as if the Raiders had anything to do with it. The Raiders fans or club doesn't pick the Churchill winner – the three Kangaroos selectors did," Furner said.
"So I was very disappointed to see the Roosters fans' reaction – again, really poor from them.
"[Roosters coach] Trent Robinson to his credit came up to me and offered commiserations. He was very gracious."
Wighton wins Clive Churchill Medal
Teammate Jordan Rapana said all the Raiders players took some offence as well. But they felt some justification in Wighton's triumph.
"Absolutely – he was at his best. It just shows how well we went as a team too," Rapana told NRL.com.
"Jack was outstanding – has been outstanding all year. Him or Papa [Josh Papalii] deserved it as they were the two best on ground in my opinion, no disrespect to the Roosters players."
It all adds up to a rollicking 2020 season, when the Roosters and Raiders are drawn to meet again.
And two things should flow from Canberra's rise from outside the top eight the past two seasons to the top four, and a grand final, in 2019.
Furner is hoping for more Friday night games and a membership surge that could push the Raiders into the league's top five clubs in that regard.
"It's always better to get on Channel Nine because there's more eye balls obviously, so more viewership – and that also means a lot more kids are watching then too," Furner said, knowing how children drive their parents to buy jerseys and other gear, and taking them to games.
"Historically we haven't had a lot of games on Channel Nine but I think we're one of the better teams to watch. So we hope that changes next year."
From the top four sides this year, the Raiders had the fewest Friday night games with four – including two away in Sydney (against the Wests Tigers at Bankwest Stadium) and Auckland (against the Warriors at Mt Smart Stadium).
By contrast the Storm and Roosters had seven Friday games each; South Sydney had eight.
Membership numbers for the Raiders, in early September this year, sat at 20,121.
"We have around 20,000 but we go to market soon for renewals and new members," Furner said.
"While we lost the game I think we gained a lot of new supporters. ANZ Stadium looked 70% green and 30% red-and-blue to me on Sunday night.
"There would also be a lot of proud Canberrans behind us that would not have been members. A lot of people from Canberra and surrounding areas drove up to Sydney and now might be thinking of becoming a member.
"I'm sure there will be an upside in membership for next season."
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Five NRL clubs sit in the 20,000 range – the Dragons, Knights, Wests Tigers, Raiders and Panthers – in that order.
The Cowboys are fifth-best supported on 21,029 so the Raiders could make a mighty leap from ninth to fifth if the grand final bounce-back takes affect.
Broncos are well out in front (34,793), followed by the Rabbitohs (29,614), Eels (25,250), Storm (25,208) and then the Cowboys.
As for merchandise sales during the Raiders' September run, Furner said the figures are still being compiled but will be impressive.
"Our own shop that sells our merchandise in Canberra didn't have much left so we'll get the upswing from all of that too.
"It was fantastic to go into Sydney and see green everywhere. I really tip my hat to the fans for getting behind us.
"For a low-scoring game, it was a good game to watch, so I hope we keep most of those fans on board."
And the same Raiders personnel that drove success this year will be there for 2020.
"There won't be any great change in our roster. Pretty much our roster is set for next year, there may be two or three spots to fill, but that's about it.
"We're in pretty good shape for next year... so not much movement at all. For 2021 there might be as we start to get tight with the salary cap.
"So some of our young guys who had rookie seasons this year like Corey Horsburgh, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Emre Guler, Hudson Young, who were at the bottom of the salary cap this year will bounce up in 2021 so that's when the pressure starts.
"But for next year we have only a couple of spots to fill and sometimes that might not become clear until February or March."
Under the CBA agreement clubs have to name a 24-man squad by November 1, and then a 29-man by the first round in March. By June 20 they name their complete 30-player squad.