Rugby league great Phil Gould has conceded the Canberra Raiders’ hopes of claiming the 2020 premiership might be a bridge too far following the injury to hooker Josh Hodgson.
The Raiders were dealt a cruel blow during Saturday night’s loss to the Storm when Hodgson went down with a season-ending ACL injury.
Young winger Bailey Simonsson could also be out for the season following a shoulder injury he suffered during the match.
But without Hodgson in the No.9 jersey, Gould said any hopes of topping the league’s best teams will likely be too difficult a task.
“That’s why it’s so hard in the NRL, with injuries and the disruptions we’ve had, they (Raiders) never really looked like they were back to their best at all,” Gould said on Wide World of Sports’ The Final Whistle.
“I don’t think they can without the hooker. They certainly can’t win that premiership with him missing now and with the other injuries they’ve had.
“You’ve got to remember they lost some players at the back end of the last year too.
“It’s just tough. Other clubs have improved.”
NRL Highlights: Raiders v Storm – Round 9
Prior to Hodgson and Simonsson’s injuries, the Raiders were already without forwards John Bateman, Iosia Soliola and Corey Horsburgh who have all been sidelined indefinitely with lengthy injuries.
According to Gould, the Raiders – who were runners-up last year – might’ve just missed out on their premiership “window”.
“Perhaps this time around the Canberra Raiders have missed their window of opportunity,” he said.
“With his (Hodgson) loss, I just don’t think they’ve got the creativity to beat the top sides on the big day.”
“The Raiders can’t win without their hooker” – Gus Gould