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New Raiders coach is excited by what he sees

Canberra Raiders coach for The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, Brock Shepperd, believes the ‘Green Machine’ could be on the verge of following in the successful footsteps of Penrith Panthers.

Shepperd has taken over the Raiders NSW Cup side for 2024 after they finished fourth in 2023, while the Jersey Flegg Cup team was seventh, the UNE SG Ball Cup side were minor premiers and the UNE Harold Matthews Cup was fifth.

Shepperd, who cut his teeth as a coach in the pathways system at Penrith, feels a similar youthful revolution is now underway in the nation’s capital.

“I spent 10 years at the Panthers and I was in and around that Under 20s side – assistant coach to the Holden Cup then – when Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Dylan Edwards, Moses Leota, James Fisher-Harris and those others were coming through,” he told

“It’s very similar to here in Canberra at the moment with some good, young kids coming on and pathways teams doing a fantastic job.”

Shepperd initially had a one-year offer to coach Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in 2024 before the Raiders stepped in and offered him a longer deal.

He has also spent time as coach of Mounties in the 2022 The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup.

“I’m extremely grateful to those clubs for all the opportunities I had but now it’s exciting what is ahead of me,” he said.

“The majority of our squad will be full-time – NRL top-30 plus our development players and then we’ve got some full-timers at Jersey Flegg and a few train-and-trials.

“It’s a very young squad and some of the ones to look out for are Chevy Stewart, Ethan Strange, winger Utuloa Asomua, and forward Noah Martin.”

Stewart and Strange were in the winning NSW Under 19s Origin team last year – Strange making his NRL debut a month later against Melbourne Storm.

Stewart and Asomua – like Strange – began 2023 in Jersey Flegg while Martin began in SG Ball as they all worked their way into the NSW Cup side last year.

“It’s just getting that flow through the pathways to develop them into NRL players,” Shepperd said.

“When the ball is kicked and the game is on we want to win no matter what the grade.

“But you’ve got to remember that a lot of these guys haven’t had a full season playing against men. Chevy and Ethan started last year in SG Ball, had a handful of games in Flegg and then up to Cup.

“We definitely want them to get a taste of NRL for sure but to expect them to handle week-to-week NRL is probably a little unrealistic and unfair. We want to bring them along at the right pace.

“The good development clubs do that – they’re patient, they coach them well, and they know when they’re ready to step up to NRL.”

The Raiders NSW Cup side only meets one finals club from 2023 – the Warriors – in the opening six rounds of 2024.

Their Round One game is against Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday 7 March.

Shepperd said it was less about who the opposition would be each week and more about working in tandem with Ricky Stuart’s NRL side.

“We work off what the NRL are doing and it rolls from there. The boys work as one squad so a lot of stuff the NRL do, we also do,” he said.

“There’s a lot more fluency here. At the Sea Eagles you had full-timers at Manly but your part-timers were at Blacktown so they're 45km away from each other.

“It’s a development mindset for me. I’m trying to upskill players so they’re at the forefront of Ricky’s mind when he’s picking the NRL team.

“You just don’t know what will happen with injuries or suspensions so you need to be in a position to back-fill the NRL and have the guys going in and doing a competent job.

“That’s exciting for us because it’s such a young team we’ll blood some of the Flegg guys as well, and we’ll bring some of our SG Ball into Flegg. Lots of great things are happening at the club.”

(Photo above courtesy:

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