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Interview with Aaron Raper

slip

slip

Courtesy of Big League Magazine and Electric Eel

AARON RAPER
Eels hooker 1996-1998

It's the game Canterbury fans gush about and gives Parramatta fans nightmares still to this day. Aaron Raper relives his memories of when Canterbury cruelled their arch rivals to qualify for the 1998 Grand Final. Interview by NICHOLAS JANZEN
The Eels team was a side that was brought together and a side that had nine new players. I left Cronulla because I wanted to stay strong with the ARL. I thought it was the right thing to do at the time. I have no regrets about the move.

The next couple of years under Brian Smith, we had some success once we gelled. Brian's one of the smartest coaches I've ever played under - he made me think about the game very differently - but there are definitely aspects of his game and coaching style that no-one really liked. You can probably see why he's left the teams that he's left, basically because of disharmony, I suppose.
I remember the Bulldogs' comeback being a surreal experience - it is the only out-of-body experience I've ever had. The last 10 to 15 minutes of that second half, I felt like for the first time I had no ability to change what the Bulldogs were doing. I remember Halligan kicking those goals from the sideline was just...I wanted to break his legs [laughs]. I felt we just couldn't stop what was happening. They lifted too many levels.
We knew we had to beat the Bulldogs but I knew the team that had qualified for the Grand Final, the Broncos, didn't want us in there. I believe we would have got the Broncos - we were the only team to get them twice that year.
I remember saying to myself 'Oh f*** when Paul Carige kicked the ball downfield and Craig Polla-Mounter launched a field goal attempt from near halfway with the scores level. I was still down near Polla-Mounter and Silva, and I was running back to Carige thinking he wasn't going to do anything here. He's kicked it, and I remember thinking, 'That's it', seeing Polla-Mounter jumping in the air with his team-mates. Everyone on the field thought it was over.
In a way this game was the worst day of my life, but the following week I ended up meeting my wife. I've now got two kids to her, so how can I say it was the worst day of my life when I've got two kids and a wife? I met her Grand Final night, when I would of otherwise have been playing. I ended up meeting her at a party and she ended up coming over to England with me a few months later and we've been together for 12 or 13 years now.
We bought a couple of childcare centres and sold them. I'm on the wharves now, I'm a stevedore at Port Botany. Les Davidson and Corey Hughes are out there too, and Corey played in that game!
If I had to support a team now, it is the Sharks. Unfortunately they're going through some real crap now, and this year it finally seemed like we were going places with the signings of some great players and the development approval. Sometimes it's just not fair, but hopefully the club can pull through. 
slip

slip

Sorry about one big paragraph, but for some unknown FFS problem I cannot push a paragraph down when pressing enter. Only site where this happens. 
TS_Quint

TS_Quint

Gee thanks for bringing that game up again.
Remind me to thank you later with a punch to the nuts, slip. 
crow

crow

Slip, cant believe you would bring that game up again. That was one of the most embarrassing days in the Eels history. 
TS_Quint

TS_Quint

Surprised they didn't ask about his Origin 'appearance'. 
slip

slip

C'mon TS and Crow. I thought Raper's thoughts on Brian Smith were interesting which confirmed what I already thought. There was also the where are they now. 
TS_Quint

TS_Quint

That he's one of the smartest coaches around? 
slip

slip

No. That he lacked people skills. The word disharmony was used in the interview. How many run-in's did he have with his players over the years. 
TS_Quint

TS_Quint

Hindmarsh loved him. 
polisheel

polisheel

I was right up the back of the SFS that day and really wanted to jump off the back. 
slip

slip

The Halligan conversions from the sideline were right in front of me. Couldn't get any worse than that. 
slip

slip

The only great thing about this game....it wasn't a GF! Don't be too upset Parra fans. 

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