Terry Campese trains on a chilly Canberra morning on Wednesday. Photo: Jay CronanCanberra skipper Terry Campese insists he intends to fulfil his Raiders contract next year despite links to English club Hull FC, declaring he wants to achieve his dream of leading the club to a premiership.
Speculation is intensifying Campese is one of several established playmakers the Super League club has approached as it looks to shore up its halves stocks for 2015 and beyond.
Campese signed a five-year contract extension with Canberra in 2010 when his form placed him in the top echelon of NRL players. That deal expires at the end of next season, but the 29-year-old has reportedly been sounded out by Hull about a move next year.
Out-of-favour Newcastle half and former Raider Michael Dobson was also linked to the club, but has since signed a four-year deal with Super League club Salford.
Asked about the rumours, Campese said: “I’m signed here for next year and [want to] fulfil that contract.
“It’s just one of those things when people are talking, things seem to pop up everywhere. I’ll be in my early 30s next year and I’d love to play out my whole career here, but in reality you’ve got younger kids coming through and you’re always getting pushed for your position.
“Who knows when it comes next year, my focus is on the immediate, on Friday night [against Canterbury] and getting a win – that’s where my energy is.
“My goal in life still is to win a comp for the Raiders, that’s what my focus is on from now and until I fulfil my contract next year.”
Young Raiders half Mitch Cornish has been blooded from the bench in the past three weeks, coming on for the back-end of games, with starting halfback Josh McCrone shifting to hooker.
Campese said adjusting to the subtle differences was still a work in progress, but knows it must click this week against a Bulldogs halves pairing of NSW stars Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds that he rates the best in the competition.
“It is hard sometimes when you have your half going to hooker and things like that,” he said. “That’s the direction we’re heading in and that’s what we have to adjust to. We need to do that sooner rather than later.”
The Bulldogs have sorely missed the direction provided by Hodkinson and Reynolds, losing their past three games to plunge from top spot on the ladder to sixth.
“We watched their game against Parra on the weekend; their forwards were still going forward and creating a lot of opportunity, but you could tell in the halves they lacked that punch,” Campese said.
“Whether [NSW] win or lose, they’ll come back fired up for Friday night. They’re the two form halves of the competition and they definitely drive that Bulldogs side.”
A reunion to celebrate Canberra’s 1994 grand final win over Canterbury will be held at Canberra Stadium before the game, with Origin coaches Laurie Daley and Mal Meninga, Steve Walters and Brett Mullins among the Raiders greats to attend.
Campese wants his troops to use their presence as motivation to turn their season around.
“I remember being a little boy in Queanbeyan, watching it at home going mad and eating green sausages,” he said. “There’d be nothing better than getting a good win and showing the guys we go out and play with the right attitude.
“We’ve got a breakfast with them on Saturday. We want them to be proud to sit around us as much as we are with them.”
Canberra Raiders v Canterbury Bulldogs at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm
Tickets available from Ticketek