The Raiders NYC team is looking to bounce back this week following a disappointing loss to the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville last week.
Coach Mick Mantelli has named four changes to the side that played at 1300 Smiles stadium last week. The team will be bolstered by the return of Co-captain Luke Bateman who was a late withdrawal from the side last week through injury.
Bateman was part of the Raider’s NRL 9s squad and was an important member of the NYC side last year.
CLICK HERE to see the team for round two
He is joined in the forwards by Tevita Pangai Junior with the monster second rower returning this week to face his old club the Knights. Like Bateman, Pangai Junior also spent time during the pre-season with the senior team, where he was recognised by senior coach Ricky Stuart as having enormous potential.
Mantelli was happy to have the experienced duo back in the team this week from injury.
“They bring a wealth of experience and leadership into the line-up this week, they played for most of the year in the side last year and they’re both good players.”
Two debutants were also amongst the inclusions this week and both are exciting prospects. Jake Wheeler in particular was impressive last year with Canberra Cup side the Woden Valley Rams, and he will start on the wing. While Ezra Howe continues his progression with the club after playing for the Raider’s SG Ball side last year.
Mantelli said that both players had earned their spot this week, and is excited to see how they perform on the weekend.
The team will be focussed on controlling the ball this week, against the Cowboys the team created too many errors which gifted the Cowboys easy field position and points.
“It’s hard to win games of football when you make too many errors” Mantelli said.
When asked whether there was a focus on Knights fullback Jake Mamo following his hat-trick against the Panthers, Mantelli responded.
“Not really, we are more focussed on how we want to play. Yes he is a good player but we are more focussed on our brand of football.”
Brenko Lee will be a player looking to have a big game this week, the big centre just missed out on selection for the senior team in Round 1, and he will be keen to keep the pressure on Matthew Allwood to continue to play well.
Andrew Heffernan was one of the better players from last week, his never say die attitude sparked a mini fightback from the Raiders, and he looks to have settled nicely into his role as halfback.
His halves partner Matt Frawley was also dangerous and managed to get himself on the scoresheet with a try last week. He and Heffernan will look to complement each other more as this year progresses.
With Kilu Pangai and Scott Doyle looking to make their returns from long term injury, coach Mick Mantelli has named an extended line-up for this weekend’s fixture.