Canberra Raiders mingle with fans at Sunshine Coast Stadium. Josh Papalii with Mason Bess. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily
Canberra Raiders mingle with fans at Sunshine Coast Stadium. Josh Papalii with Mason Bess. Photo: John McCutcheon / Sunshine Coast Daily

Popular Raiders wrap up fruitful pre-season camp on Coast

RUGBY LEAGUE: Raiders stars Josh Papalii and Josh Hodgson say the club’s unexpected trip to the region has more than paid dividends, with plenty garnered on and off the field.

The Raiders 10-day camp on the Sunshine Coast wrapped up yesterday with a bevy of fans turning out to meet the side following an open training session at Sunshine Coast Stadium.

The 2019 grand finalists relocated to the region last week to escape poor air quality caused by bushfire smoke in the nation’s capital.

While they’ve been put through their paces in the clear air, Papalii said the camp had also worked to nail down some important combinations with fresh faces, Curtis Scott and George Williams.

“We got to work with Scotty and Georgy there and Georgy being in the halves, it’s important for him to find his feet really quick and I think he’s done that on this away trip and hopefully we can go back to Canberra and keep working on it,” Papalii said.

Hodgson echoed Papalii’s thoughts, lauding the new players for “hitting the ground running”.

“We’ve definitely needed to do a bit of work on that (new combinations) especially with George’s position,” he said.

“You’ve got a half coming into a new team and we wanted to work on some things that we did last year and a few little things that we wanted to tweak.

“He’s a really important part of our squad…I thought coming up here was really vital in terms of our preparation and going into Round 1.”

Hodgson believed Williams’ inclusion in the squad would be a big boost, especially to five-eighth Jack Wighton.

“Jack had a fantastic year for us last year and I’m excited to see how he’s going to go again this year and I think George will really complement him and add another running dimension to our game,” he said.

The Raiders open training session yesterday was not only an ideal chance for fans to meet the players but to raise much-needed funds for bushfire relief.

“It’s very nice that we can do that for the firefighters out there who are brave enough to tough those conditions,” Papalii said.

“It’s certainly a shocking thing that’s happened but the one thing I’ve noticed out of it is how everyone has rallied together in Australia and around the world and tried to help people that are in need,” Hodgson said.