AMID a flurry of trial matches and a seemingly endless list of pre-season commitments, the Raiders’ under 20s team found some spare time to visit Batemans Bay on Saturday.
But the trip down the Clyde Mountain wasn’t all about enjoying the coastal sun – the NRL’s future stars were put through a gruelling session at Mackay Park before hitting the sand at Wimbie Beach.
Coach Mick Mantelli said a temporary change of scenery was ideal for his players at this time of year.
“It’s just to get us out of the environment up there (in Canberra),” Mantelli said.
“We’ve been up there training since seven weeks before Christmas and now five or six weeks after Christmas, so it’s just a good chance to get away.
“We’ve been away with the boys for a trial last week and we’ve got another trial against the Bulldogs in Goulburn this week and to get down here, do some hard work and hit the surf, it’ll show them a different part of the country.”
The Raiders were yet to visit the beach when Mantelli took time out to speak to the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner, but he was already impressed with his players’ efforts during their morning session at Mackay Park.
“They went all right today, they worked hard and they seemed to enjoy it. They’re looking forward to hitting the surf after all the work I put them through out there,” he said.
“We worked mainly on a lot of our structures (at Mackay Park) and we’ll go out to Wimbie now and do some wrestling on the grass there and then sprints up the hills this afternoon.”
A few of the under 20s players were involved in the first team’s combined trial match against Wyong and Mounties on Saturday night and Mantelli said he was keen to get them back.
“We’ve got about three or four guys in the first grade squad trialling tonight and so when we get them back, we’ll have the nucleus of a very good team,” he said.
When asked about his side’s ambitions for the season ahead, Mantelli took a cautious approach.
“We’re very developmental this year,” he said.
“We made the grand final last year and got runners-up but this year we’ve got a new squad.
“Our backs stayed intact but we’ve got a whole new set of forwards so it’s just about developing these kids early on and then obviously the rewards will come after that, whether it be grand finals or the top eight.”