Congratulations to the winner of the 2011 RNA Raiders Player of the Year Award, Josh McCrone!
In what was a tough season for the Green Machine, young McCrone bore the bulk of the play making responsibilities in the young Raiders lineup after Terry Campese was ruled out for all but eight minutes of the season.
Making matters worse, high profile signing Matt Orford spent the majority of the season under an injury cloud and only produced sub-par performances when he did make it out on the field.
This all placed a huge burden on the relatively inexperienced halves partnership of Josh McCrone and Sam Williams, as McCrone was forced to switch to five-eighth and take the lead play making roll in the side.
Despite their lack of experience, McCrone and Williams did their best all year to provide direction to the depleted Raiders attack. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, but the effort was always there as the young halves pairing never gave up trying to give their team the upper hand.
The 2011 season could well prove to be a defining year in the career of the 24 year old from the small town of Temora in western NSW.
Leading an NRL side around as the chief play maker is not an easy task for a player who has never had to do it before. Faced with this new responsibility, McCrone took the reigns with both hands and didn't look back.
Defensive teams were left in dissaray more than once by the fleet footed McCrone as he showed off his running game close to the line, stepping and weaving between players to score on multiple occasions in different games.
But what Raiders fans will remember McCrone's 2011 season most for perhaps was the game winning kick that McCrone provided to 2011 player of the year runner-up, Josh Dugan, which enabled the superstar fullback to fly in and ground the ball against the Dragons in the final seconds of the round 20 clash, winning the game for the Raiders and ensuring that the Raiders/Dragons hoodoo remained well and truly intact.
It was an all or nothing play from McCrone that showed remarkable poise in such a high-pressure situation. Josh's cool headed thinking in those final seconds combined with Dugan's amazing ability to put himself in the right place at the right time provided a result that Raiders fans and players alike won't soon forget.
In a sign of just how close the race for the player of the year award was in 2011, McCrone won by only a single vote ahead of runner-up Josh Dugan in the tie-breaker, after both players picked up five man of the match awards each during the year.
Raiders fans were not the only ones to notice McCrone's impressive season, as Raiders management signed the half up for another 2 years until the end of 2014.
With the long awaited return of Terry Campese to the Raiders side in 2012, Josh McCrone will once again get the chance to play a more relaxed game as the pressure of being the main man shifts back on Campese.
After the experience gained in 2011 by McCrone, the best halves pairing in the NRL just got a whole lot better and rival clubs would be wise to be on the lookout for the dangerous McCrone as he looks to leave his mark on the Raiders 2012 campaign.Written by: ArchieSource: RNA News