Former Defence boss calls in favour for Raiders

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday October 4, 2019


A throng of mandarins will be supporting the Canberra Raiders in their fight against the Sydney Roosters at the NRL grand final this weekend.

In the lead up, former Secretary of the Department of Defence Dennis Richardson has revealed how he had hoped to give his team the upper hand.

The ex ASIO boss told The Australian  how he’d hit up some of his intelligence colleagues for help.

“When we beat South Sydney last week I got in contact with the Chief of the Defence Force, Angus Campbell, and asked him whether the SAS could do a job on the Roosters,” he joked.

“Angus said that would be ­improper. So I then turned to ASIO and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service and the Australian Signals Directorate, given the review I’m doing, and I asked whether they could do something to ensure we all had the secrets the Roosters might have for the game. And for some bloody reason they’ve told me that would be ­improper.”

Despite the Raiders having been the underdogs for some time, a number of public servants have remained dedicated to the Green Machine, including retiring Environment and Energy boss Finn Pratt; Communications and Arts secretary Mike Mrdakthe; the former vice-chief of the Defence Force Ray Griggs; ex Treasury secretary John Fraser, as well as his successor, Steven Kennedy.

Even the chairman of the Raiders board was a leader in the public service: former secretary of Defence Allan Hawke.

The rivals first went head to head at Suncorp Stadium in May, with the Roosters coming out on top 30-24. They came together again in August on the Raiders’ home ground, but the Roosters just finished on top in a 22-18 victory.

It will be a tough match, but Hawke said the team has been working on its defence.

“You will notice our ­defence this year is so much better,” he told the Australian.

He also reflected on the first board meeting with coach Ricky Stuart in 2014.

“What Ricky said was we need to change the culture of this place,” he said. “(He) wanted to develop a distinctive signature about what we stood for and the way we did things.”

The Roosters-turned-Raiders coach highlighted the need for the team to cultivate representative players who would be picked for State of Origin and Test matches for Australia, according to Hawke.

The match will kick off on Sunday at 7.30pm AEDT. Channel 9 will broadcast the game live from Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.

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