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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Canberra Raiders round 3 preview: Papalii’s 200th

Round 3: Melbourne Storm (4th) vs Canberra Raiders (3rd) – Saturday 30 May 7.35pm @ AAMI Park

The match of the round. A rematch of the qualifying final in Melbourne is one hell of a way for the Raiders to restart their season, especially for Josh Papalii’s 200th NRL game, all played for the green machine.

One of the great Canberra Raiders, Papalii has been forced to wait two months to play his 200th and it seems to have been lost with the season restart and the John Bateman drama.

Papalli has won three Mal Meninga medals in the past four seasons and it would be fitting for the Raiders to deliver a win in his milestone game.

The Raiders travelled to Melbourne twice last year and came away with two famous last-minute victories. Both matches were a full 80-minute grind with the sides evenly matched, and this contest shapes up to be no different.

The Raiders have named the same side that ran out earlier in the year. It’s an almost full-strength side with the only notable exception being John Bateman, who is still recovering from shoulder surgery he had earlier this year.

New recruit Jordan Rapana missed out after being named 18th man, perhaps needing some more time to build up fitness after a late arrival to the squad. It means Bailey Simonsson keeps his position on the left wing after an impressive display in the first two rounds.

Michael Oldfield has been named as the utility on the bench instead of Rapana, although some Ricky Stuart mind games and a late swap wouldn’t be a huge surprise.

The Storm showed they’re still one of the teams to beat after an impressive win at Brookvale in round 1 followed by a dour 12-10 victory over the Sharks.

They have again named a strong side, like they have for the past 15 years it seems.

Storm legend 36-year-old Cameron Smith continues to show no signs of slowing down and his matchup with Josh Hodgson shapes as a pivotal clash. Both sides rely heavily on their hookers for their attack so whoever performs best will go a long way to helping their side claim victory.

Another matchup that will be crucial to the outcome is the battle of two star-studded forward packs, with the likes of the Raiders’ Papalii, Elliott Whitehead and Joe Tapine up against Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane. I can almost hear the body clashes already!

There are great matchups all over the park and this game promises to be a cracking way to restart the season.

Full teams:

1Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad1Ryan Papenhuyzen
2Bailey Simonsson2Suliasi Vunivalu
3Jarrod Croker3Justin Olam
4Curtis Scott4Marion Seve
5Nick Cotric5Josh Addo-Carr
6Jack Wighton6Cameron Munster
7George Williams7Jahrome Hughes
8 Josh Papalii8Jesse Bromwich
9Josh Hodgson9Cameron Smith
10Dunamis Lui10Nelson Asofa-Solomona
11Joseph Tapine11Felise Kaufusi
12Elliott Whitehead12Kenneath Bromwich
13Corey Horsburgh13Dale Finucane
14Siliva Havili14Brandon Smith
15Emre Guler15Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
16Iosia Soliola16Christian Welch
17Michael Oldfield17Max King
18Jordan Rapana18Tom Eisenhuth
19Matt Frawley19Brenko Lee
20Kai O’Donnell20Ryley Jacks
21Tom Starling21Darryn Schonig

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