Canberra silenced doubters in Newcastle raid: Levi

Alex Mitchell |

Danny Levi says belief in his Raiders camp is high, even if NRL pundits offer them little love.
Danny Levi says belief in his Raiders camp is high, even if NRL pundits offer them little love.

Perhaps nothing sums up Canberra coach Ricky Stuart’s motivational philosophy better than a sign sticky-taped to a change room locker simply reading “f*** ’em”.

Emphasising a perceived lack of belief from NRL pundits, the Raiders would use that to fuel a stirring 28-12 win against Newcastle that made a mockery of predictions they’d tumble down the ladder.

Hooker Danny Levi wouldn’t divulge who ‘they’ specifically were, but acknowledged the upset, ‘nobody believes in us’ win was trademark Stuart.

“There’s been plenty said about us, but we’ve said before we don’t worry about that, we know what we can do and we’re confident in ourselves,” he said.

“Backs against the wall and people saying what they want to say about us, but we know what we can do.

“It was just a real grinding effort that ‘Sticky’ (Stuart) loves, and that’s what made us proud.

“It shows we’re willing to stick in and do the ugly stuff … but obviously there’s heaps to work on and we’re only going to get better.”

Danny Levi.
Danny Levi scores between the sticks in Canberra’s round-one win over Newcastle. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

But Canberra know they can’t go the whole season pretending the NRL has written them off.

Even their first-up win has forced critics to re-evaluate where they see the Raiders at, and they head to Saturday’s home clash with Wests Tigers as warm favourites.

Levi said any praise should be treated the same way they’d treat criticism.

“Good and bad, people are gonna say stuff, but we can’t worry about it,” he said.

“We’ll worry about our group.”

Levi could be forgiven for feeling extra satisfied after last Friday’s win, having forced his way back into the line-up after breaking his jaw twice in 2023.

The 27-year-old New Zealand and Samoa international is sharing the hooker role with bench rake Tom Starling, sending Zac Woolford back to NSW Cup.

“It was a bit of a roller coaster last year and it was all over the place, but I’m just happy being there round one and then I’ll just keep building from here,” he said.

“Obviously I broke my jaw, and then I was coming back and managed to do it again … but (Stuart) has always made it clear as long as I work hard then good things will come.

“I just had to keep grinding.”