There was a coach called Sticky
His forwards situation quite tricky
His cupboard was bare
He was losing his hair
With his team he couldn’t be picky
The above snippet perfectly sums up the current situation for the Canberra Raiders. Every week, without fail, they lose at least another forward in what had previously been quite a well-stocked pool of emerging talent. With Horsburgh somehow managing to bang his elbow (in what sounds like an excruciating fashion), the Raiders now have Hodgson, Leilua and the aforementioned redhead out, and Papalii, Wighton and Cotric see-sawing depending on their Origin status. Chuck in Hudson Young’s five game ban for
being a Raider ‘eye gouging’ you can see that there’s going to have to be some deft list management from Stuart and co over the next six or so rounds.
The team list for round 13 actually looks pretty good, with the Origin three all listed to play (this is a provisional selection as it hinges on 80 minutes of very tough footy on Wednesday night). We assume the reasoning behind this quick backup is that they’ll still be pumped enough from State duties that they should carry form and intensity into Friday night’s clash.
To be honest this is probably the best 17 Stuart can hope for, and they should be much more effective than the side that just managed to scrap home against an oscillating Bulldogs outfit in round 12. Wighton will straighten the attack, something which is desperately needed with Hodgson out. Expect to see him pushing up in support of Havili, especially if Siliva can generate some good breaks from dummy.
The thing I’m most personally excited about is Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad’s developing role in the side. He was absolutely tremendous against the Dogs, and I have declared him to be the unofficial captain of that game (no points for guessing who gets the Green Star this week).
The other big talking point is the return of Rapana. If he and Cotric can unlock something out on the right then the Tigers are in for a long 80 minutes. His efforts in the Raiders end zone have been sorely missed, and I expect him to generate a lot of metres coming out off our line.
The Tigers might be five spots down the ladder from the Raiders but they’re only one win behind, meaning a victory this weekend could easily sling them up into the eight. They’ll be aware of the Raiders struggles of late and they’ve shown they can match it with stronger teams like they’re two point loss to the Storm in round 11.
Head to Head
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad vs Moses Mbye – Easily the most mouth watering match up in this game. CNK makes huge strides (both physically and developmentally) in every game he plays and was definitely the key architect of the Raiders narrow win over the Dogs. Mbye remains one of the Tigers strike weapons, and the Raiders need to be wary of him carrying the ball into space in broken field play.
Green Star Award
I mean if you got to this section thinking it would be anyone other than CNK then you probably weren’t watching the Raiders in round 12. Supreme confidence on kick returns, powerful leg work coming out of the danger zone, multiple plays at dummy half in many sets to cover for teammates still coming onside, try saving tackles and epic tackle breaks. The guy somehow managed to cover at least four different key roles in the space of 80 minutes.
The Raiders need to build off last weeks win and start locking down some consecutive victories. They potentially have most of their top tier team back for this game and they can’t afford to waste the firepower.
Raiders by 8!