Civic Stadium would ensure Raiders’ future in Canberra: Furner


The Raiders will move into their $19 million, state-of-the-art Braddon training base at the end of the year.

It will see them housed in the one of the most cutting edge facilities in the NRL.

But Furner said to be absolutely sure of their future they would need a new stadium.

Canberra Stadium is rapidly approaching its used-by date, with the ACT government waiting on their federal counterparts to decide what it wants to do with not only the stadium, but the AIS Arena and swimming pool as well.

That will determine whether the Andrew Barr’s government can afford to build a new, rectangular stadium in Civic, or whether it will look to give Canberra Stadium a facelift.

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The ACT government had planned to build a new Civic Stadium by 2025, but the Mr Fluffy absestos saga meant they had to put it on the backburner.

Furner said if it was to go ahead it would guarantee the Raiders were here to stay.

“We represent not just Canberra, but the region. It’s a massive region,” he said.

“And the NSW country produce a lot of NRL players. We’re just completing a centre of excellence and if we got a new stadium down the track there’s no way they could move us.”

Furner alluded to the other factor in Canberra’s favour – their affiliation with the NSW country.

Country footballers make up about 20 per cent of all NRL players, with the Raiders development coaches covering a large region – from surrounding cities like Goulburn to the Riverina down to the south coast.

Raiders co-captain Jarrod Croker, who is on track to break every record in the Green Machine book, is a Goulburn product.

Those country products aren’t just playing for the Raiders, but Sydney clubs as well.

“I don’t think we’re in the firing line because of the geographical region that we cover,” Furner said.

“We’re the only inland team. When you do get their stats on the number of NRL players that come from the country – it’s quite big.

“The Penriths and the Newcastles and ourselves really do the bulk of the heavy lifting in the NSW country.

“They don’t all play for us – they end up at St George, they end up at the Bulldogs. It’s not just Raiders, they end up in the NRL and the numbers are quite significant.”

Furner said the Raiders were also financially stable.

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While the football club doesn’t always make a profit, any losses are covered by their leagues club.

“We’ve always been the same. We punch above our weight,” Furner said.

“We’ve got good sponsorship. We’ve got good support from the ACT government. We’ve got good support from our licence club group – particularly Queanbeyan Leagues Club across the border.

“We never would’ve started without them and we wouldn’t still be going without them. So yeah, we’re OK.”

NRL ROUND THREE

Friday: Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights at Canberra Stadium, 6pm. Tickets from Ticketek.

Raiders squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (C), 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. John Bateman, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Ryan Sutton. Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Hudson Young, 16. Sia Soliola, 17. Corey Horsburgh. Reserves: 18. Sam Williams, 19. JJ Collins, 20. Bailey Simonsson, 21. Jack Murchie.

Knights squad: 1. Connor Watson, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Hymel Hunt, 4. Jesse Ramien, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Kalyn Ponga, 7. Mitchell Pearce (C), 8. David Klemmer, 9. Danny Levi, 10. James Gavet, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Sione Mata’utia, 13. Tim Glasby. Interchange: 14. Kurt Mann, 15. Aidan Guerra, 16. Mitchell Barnett, 17. Herman Ese’ese. Reserves: 18. Josh King, 19. Mason Lino, 20. Jamie Buhrer, 21. Brodie Jones.

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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