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Raiders welcome back stars for finals clash

The Canberra Raiders have named a star-studded lineup for their elimination final against the Cronulla Sharks this Saturday evening, 3 October, at GIO Stadium.

The Raiders rested nine of their starting 13 last weekend against the Cronulla Sharks and despite the young Raiders picking up a 38-28 win, Ricky Stuart has recalled his big guns for the do or die clash.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad slots straight back in at fullback while Jarrod Croker and Jordan Rapana return as the centres.

Nick Cotric and Semi Valemei have been named on the wings to round out the back five, but veteran Michael Oldfield has been named on the reserves list, so could replace Valemei if Ricky Stuart opts for more experience in a big game.

Jack Wighton and George Williams will continue their partnership in the halves after being given a week off.

Tom Starling has been named to start at hooker after re-signing with the club for a further two years, while fan favourite Josh Papalii returns to partner Dunamis Lui in the front row.

It’s an all English second row with John Bateman and Elliott Whitehead returning, while New Zealand international Joe Tapine rounds out the back row at lock.

Utility Siliva Havili has been named on the bench along with forwards Sia Soliola, Hudson Young and Corey Harawira-Naera.

Sam Williams, Kai O’Donnell, Oldfield and Matthew Timoko are the reserves, while the unlucky Ryan Sutton has been ruled out for the rest of the finals after injuring his MCL against the Sharks last week.

Plenty was made of the Raiders beating the Sharks without many of their stars, but the Sharks were also without several key players who they welcome back for this final.

Chad Townsend returns to partner Connor Tracey in the halves, shifting Wade Graham back to his usual spot in the second row, while Blayke Brailey returns at hooker.

Josh Dugan, Jesse Ramien and Sione Katoa return to the bolster their outside backs, while Toby Rudolf and Siosifa Talakai have also come back into the side.

This will be the last home game for the Raiders this season and they have been given a huge boost after receiving the green light for a crowd increase to 9,600 fans.

Full teams:

1Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad1William Kennedy
2Semi Valemei2Sione Katoa
3Jarrod Croker3Josh Dugan
4Jordan Rapana4Jesse Ramien
5Nick Cotric5Ronaldo Mulitalo
6Jack Wighton6Connor Tracey
7George Williams7Chad Townsend
8Josh Papalii8Braden Hamlin-Uele
9Tom Starling9Blayke Brailey
10Dunamis Lui10Aaron Woods
11John Bateman11Briton Nikora
12Elliott Whitehead12Wade Graham
13Joe Tapine13Toby Rudolf
 Bench Bench
14Siliva Havili14Siosifa Talakai
15Sia Soliola15Scott Sorensen
16Hudson Young16Andrew Fifita
17Corey Harawira-Naera17Jack Williams
 Reserves Reserves
18Sam Williams18Teig Wilton
19Kai O’Donnell19Braydon Trindall
20Michael Oldfield20Mawene Hiroti
21Matthew Timoko21Bryson Goodwin
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