Second chance at final glory
Raiders lose captain to hit
THE Whitsunday Raiders have lost their captain and star attacking player, Shannon Wolland, after a head clash at the beginning of Saturday’s loss against Mackay City.
Wolland has confirmed he has two fractured cheek bones and is awaiting surgery in Townsville.
Wolland said he did not know the extent of his injuries until someone pointed out he had a dent in his face.
“I was taken to hospital when it happened in Mackay and they poked and prodded and sent me home,” he said.
“But I went to the hospital again in Proserpine for a second opinion the next day and sure enough, a CT scan has showed I have two fractured cheek bones.
“A player on the other team decided to tackle me with his head early on in the game.
“I’m off to doctors and specialists this week and if all goes well I will be in surgery on Friday.
“I’m out for a fair while but don’t worry, I’ll be cheering from afar for the team this weekend.”
Coach Kon Flaherty said Mackay City played a physical game as anticipated.
“City have played well all year round and deserve to be in the final,” Flaherty said.
“In the game they were hard off the line and hard on the ball.
“City scored a few tries early on before we held them at bay, only to have them come out strong in the second half to secure the win.
“Losing Shannon was a blow and we had another four injuries during the game with an already small bench.
“I think despite a huge effort from the guys, by the end of the game we ran out of people and energy.
“Coming into next week we will address where we are at with players and injuries, which might mean some shuffling of players and positions.”
Key Raiders player Ben Cornish pushed through his own ankle injury to play a solid game for the Raiders after stepping up to take on felled Wolland’s role.
Teammate Madison French was highlighted for his tackling and on-ball consistency.
Wolland said, from what he saw of the game before being taken to hospital, he was very proud of how his boys played.
“We’re a fairly young team,” he said.
“We just need a little confidence to know we can do it.”
But all is not lost for the injury-plagued Raiders following their 39-9 loss to City.
The loss meant the club missed out on a free pass this weekend to skip straight to the grand final but the Raiders have a second chance at grand final glory.
Kuttabul Camelboks beat Bowen Mudcrabs on Saturday to secure their place against in the semifinal.
The local boys have vowed to channel their disappointment to “crush Kuttabul”.
But coach Flaherty won’t underestimate their opponent.
“Next week’s game isn’t a foregone conclusion,” he said.
“Kuttabul are playing well and it should be a close match.
“Shannon was our number one attacking player and his talk and direction on the field will be missed.”
The Raiders must win this weekend’s elimination final in order to go through to the grand final the following week for a rematch against City.
SURGERY DUE: Raiders five-eighth Shannon Wolland in action against Slade Point last week.