NYC: CANBERRA RAIDERS V NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS
SATURDAY MARCH 8, 5.45PM (QLD TIME), 1300 SMILES STADIUM
Raiders NYC Coach Mick Mantelli has named an exciting new-look side for the season opener against the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday afternoon at 1300 Smiles Stadium.
Several of the playmaking positions within the team were up for grabs after last year’s maestro’s Jack Ahearn and Mitch Cornish progressed through to the NRL squad.
This has enabled the likes of Ricky Garard, Matt Frawley and Andrew Heffernan to take over the reins of the side after their impressive efforts in the pre-season and in the trials.
Garard has previously been used as a hooker off the interchange bench to quicken the tempo of play with his acceleration, agility and ball skills but now gets his chance in his favoured position of fullback after a pre-season in which the strength and conditioning staff at the club have been continually blown away with his progress.
Frawley and Heffernan were also a part of last year’s line-up however they featured at hooker and centre respectively.
They now get their opportunity to showcase their playmaking talents and ability to guide the side around the park.
Heffernan, along with Luke Bateman, Brenko Lee and Patrick Mago are set to be pivotal members of the team after the quartet spent a portion of the pre-season gaining experience with the NRL squad.
Lee will be particularly fired up for a big performance after he was marginally ousted by Matt Allwood for the left centre position in the NRL line-up.
Blockbusting duo Bateman and Mago will share the captaincy duties and make up an imposing back-row which also includes Jared McIlwrick, brother of NRL player Matt.
The full team line-up is:
1. Ricky Garard
2. Leu Saipani
3. Brenko Lee
4. Jack Creith
5. Lachlan Hurst
6. Matt Frawley
7. Andrew Heffernan
8. Mitchell Shaw
9. Trent Schubach
10. Mitchell Barnett
11. Patrick Mago ©
12. Jared McIlwrick
13. Luke Bateman ©
14. Josh Baker
15. Jules Webley
16. Brett Solomon
17. Thoren Fidow-Kele
18. Dylan McGrath
Coach: Mick Mantelli