Class of 1989’s 30th anniversary inspiring Canberra Raiders’ campaign


He stepped past two before carrying another three. His arm extending to put the ball down on the line as they dragged him down.

History was made. Legends were born.

Meninga, Ricky Stuart, Laurie Daley, Gary Belcher, Steve Walters, Glenn Lazarus, Bradley Clyde, Kevin Walters and coach Tim Sheens.

All now greats of the game.

This year it’s the 30th anniversary of the greatest grand final of all time.

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An honour that’s now official after it was voted as exactly that at a Men of League gala dinner last year.

It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.

This is the first in a series of The Canberra Times articles that will mark the anniversary throughout the season.

The Raiders have begun their own celebrations, starting at their season launch by opening their Hall of Fame with 13 inductees.

All were involved in the 1989 season. Twelve players and the coach.

The Green Machine would turn their first ever premiership into back-to-back triumphs. And then add a third in 1994 just for good measure.

Three premierships in six seasons – not bad considering they only played their first ever game in 1982.

Now the Raiders are trying to bring the glory days back.

Stuart is now at the helm of the club, going into his sixth season as Raiders coach.

He links the two eras together as the club hopes to bring another period of dominance to Canberra.

That all starts in the Raiders’ trip to the Gold Coast to take on the Titans on Sunday.

The players are using the 30th anniversary as motivation to bring back the glory days.

Many of them got a sniff in 2016, when they went within a try of making the grand final, and they’re hungry for more.

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The Old Boys have made them hungrier, urging them to consign them to the past.

Raiders co-captain Jarrod Croker was desperate for the club to get off to a strong start to the season to make it impossible for them not to want to come back to the club for their Forever Green game later in the year.

A game when the Raiders tie the past with the presence and bring former players back to the club for a game.

“It was a very special night. We touched on that a few times, how great the night was,” Croker said of the season launch.

“The key message to come out of that was, from those guys themselves, they were sick of watching their videos and they were ready for us to lift the trophy.

“There’s plenty of motivation. It’s a massive year for the club. I’d like to be in a really good position come, I think it’s round 10, when we have the old boys night.

“I’d like to be a in a really good position to make those guys want to come back and watch us that game and move towards the finals from there.”

Ironically, one of those Raiders icons starts the season with a foot in each camp.

Meninga took up a role as the Titans’ head of performance and culture late last year, the Australian coach moving back to Queensland from Canberra.

His pass to Jackson got the ball rolling all those years ago.

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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