Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart says Corey Harawira-Naera and Corey Horsburgh have lost their spots for round one after being caught drink driving in separate incidents over the Christmas holiday period.
Horsburgh will face the ACT Magistrates Court on February 23 pm a low-range drink driving charge, while Harawira-Naera is yet to receive a court date.
A clearly disappointed Stuart said the duo only had themselves to blame but was confident in the Raiders forward depth.
“It is disappointing but it’s not my job to be keeping their spot in the 17,” Stuart said.
“That’s their job and they’ve made it harder for themselves.
“They’re upset with themselves and have put themselves on the back foot.
“They know it was a bad choice. I’ve left it, they’ve got their court cases pending.
“We’ve got others in the footy team I’ve got to try get ready for game one.
“It won’t be a disturbance. There will be somebody else there to take their spot.
“We’ve got plenty of depth and it just gives somebody else an opportunity.”
The battle for positions
Stuart is blessed with an abundance of options at his disposal who can all play quality minutes in the NRL.
The likes of Josh Papalii, Dunamis Lui, Elliott Whitehead, Hudson Young and Joe Tapine are all but round one locks after stellar 2020 seasons, while there plenty of others who could take advantage of the Coreys’ absence.
Sia Soliola, Emre Guler, Ryan Sutton and new-recruit Ryan James were most likely fighting for just one spot between them but will now have a greater opportunity for a round one berth against the Wests Tigers on Sunday 14 March at GIO Stadium.
Horsburgh was sidelined for the majority of last season after picking up a Lisfranc injury in round seven and will now have to wait a little longer to return to the NRL.
Harawira-Naera joined the club mid-season in 2020 and played the majority of his football off the bench.
He was expected to take the vacant spot in the back row following John Bateman’s return to England but will now have to win it back.
Young would be the most likely one to fill that spot now and after a breakout 2020, may be tough to dislodge from the starting role.
The Raiders’ forwards will have a chance to earn their spots when they play the Sydney Roosters in a trial on Saturday 27 February at Seiffort Oval.