The Proserpine Whitsunday Raiders beat the Mackay City Redmen 22-20 at the Mackay Rugby Union Grand Final on August 3.
The Proserpine Whitsunday Raiders beat the Mackay City Redmen 22-20 at the Mackay Rugby Union Grand Final on August 3.

Different team, same fight: Raiders ready for 2020

THEY may be the reigning champions, but the Proserpine Whitsunday Raiders coach has said ‘the goals are different this year’.

The Raiders are still riding the high of last year’s exhilarating 22-20 win over Mackay City in a pulsating Mackay District Rugby Union A-grade grand final, but coach Andre Houston has said to temper expectations coming in to 2020.

With a transient community across the Whitsunday region, Houston said the team fielded in 2020 will be very different than last year’s premiership winning side.

“We’ve lost a few local boys who are travelling the world, and our boys from other countries have returned back home or have moved on to other places in Australia,” he said.

“It’s a bit of a two year cycle up here. In 2019, we retained 90 per cent of the 2018 team, so they all knew what to do.

“Our goal this year is to finish in the top four, anything more than the semi-finals and we will be very happy.”

Houston said he was pleased with the return of a number of 2019 players, meaning he wouldn’t be ‘starting from scratch’.

His premiership winning coaching approach wouldn’t change much this season, however he had asked some ex-Raider players to return in coaching and support roles to assist the development of the squad.

“There won’t be a lot different in how the team is coached, but obviously there will be some change to our game plan to refresh it and maintain some surprise,” he said.

Houston said, despite some teams tipping them to be the favourites this year, he was looking to the Mackay City team to be the competition leaders.

“They’ve been in the finals six years in a row and they have an incredibly strong team who come back year after year,” he said.

“It will be a challenging year, but it will herald in a new era of players and I’m looking forward to the season.”

The first game of the season will be on March 7 against Mackay City, at Kuttabul.


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