The Canberra Raiders will be buoyed by two huge inclusions to their side when they take on the North Queensland Cowboys in Indigenous round at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville on Saturday evening, 1 August.
John Bateman will make his first appearance for the Raiders since last year’s grand final while new recruit Corey Harawira-Naera has been named on the bench and will make become Raider #368 in his first NRL game this year.
Bateman was the 2019 Dally M second rower of the season and he provides the Raiders another attacking weapon on the right side of the field. His return to the second row sees Hudson Young shift to lock.
An injury to fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has seen a reshuffle in the backline with Jordan Rapana to cover at fullback while Curtis Scott earns himself a reprieve and will start at centre.
The Raiders find themselves in 5th spot on the ladder following two gutsy victories over the Roosters and Rabbitohs.
Dealing with injuries to their forward stocks, the Raiders remaining middle forwards have been asked to get through a mountain of work.
Josh Papalii, Dunamis Lui and Joe Tapine have all been superb over the past fortnight but will appreciate the quality and experience that Bateman and Harawira-Naera will bring to the squad.
Their opponents, the Cowboys, are dealing with injury issues of their own and have lost their previous four matches to be in 12th spot on the ladder.
Without their captain Michael Morgan, Valentine Holmes and Scott Drinkwater, the Cowboys’ attack has looked out of sorts and they’ve been unable to find enough points to win games, averaging just two tries per game over the last month.
The Raiders will still be wary of their opponents after the Cowboys won their previous encounter in round 11 last year; Jason Taumalolo the star of the show that day running for 251 metres.
The Cowboys were dealt a major blow during the week after Josh McGuire had his one-game suspension upheld at the tribunal on Tuesday night, 28 July.
Josh Papalii (Raiders) vs Jason Taumalolo (Cowboys)
While they may not line up opposite each other on the team sheets, both of these men are undoubtedly the leaders of their forward packs and amongst the best players in the competition. Papalii has lifted his game the past few weeks and not only does he rack up the metres, he also hits the scoreboard and has four tries next to his name this season.
Taumalolo is just a freak. He consistently reaches over 200 metres per game and his combination of power and endurance is something that the NRL has never seen before. The issue for Taumalolo is that he often plays a lone role in the Cowboys forward pack, so he will need some help against a quality Raiders outift.
Jordan Rapana (Raiders) vs Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (Cowboys)
Rapana has played as a middle forward, on the wing, in the centres so far this season and now finds himself lining up at fullback. It’s quite extraordinary how important he has become for the Raiders given he started the season playing rugby union in Japan. He shifted to fullback when Nicoll-Klokstad went off injured last week and did a fine job at the back, but the test will be whether he has the fitness to play there for a full 80 minutes.
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is the man they call ‘The Hammer’ and has become a joy to watch at fullback in his rookie season. He has incredible pace and has shown that he has the ability to carve a defence to pieces if given enough space. He is currently covering for the injured Valentine Holmes and if the Cowboys decide on Holmes as their future fullback, there would surely be other clubs desperate to recruit ‘The Hammer’.
|1||Jordan Rapana||1||Hamiso Tabaui-Fidow|
|2||Semi Valemei||2||Kyle Feldt|
|3||Jarrod Croker||3||Justin O’Neill|
|4||Curtis Scott||4||Connelly Lemuelu|
|5||Nick Cotric||5||Murray Taulagi|
|6||Jack Wighton||6||Daejarn Asi|
|7||George Williams||7||Jake Clifford|
|8||Josh Papalii||8||Josh McGuire|
|9||Siliva Havili||9||Reece Robson|
|10||Dunamis Lui||10||Jordan McLean|
|11||John Bateman||11||Shane Wright|
|12||Elliott Whitehead||12||Coen Hess|
|13||Hudson Young||13||Jason Taumalolo|
|14||Tom Starling||14||Mitchell Dunn|
|15||Joe Tapine||15||Tom Gilbert|
|16||Ryan Sutton||16||Gavin Cooper|
|17||Corey Harawira-Naera||17||Francis Molo|
|18||Sam Williams||18||John Asiata|
|19||Harley Smith-Shields||19||Ben Hampton|
|20||Kai O’Donnell||20||Esan Marsters|
|21||Matt Frawley||21||Jake Granville|