Canberra Raiders v Manly Sea Eagles on Sunday at 2:00pm at Brookvale Oval
With representative jerseys up for grabs and a club stalwart’s milestone to celebrate, the Canberra Raiders will be out to put on a show against the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval this Sunday.
There are several Raiders players on the brink of representative selection for the City/Country clash next weekend whilst Josh Papalii and David Shillington are also in contention for Australia for the Trans-Tasman Test Match.
A good performance against the third placed Sea Eagles will most certainly make selectors stand up and take notice of the Canberra candidates.
More importantly though, the Raiders will be focused on registering back-to-back victories for the first time this season after toppling the Melbourne Storm last weekend.
“The players certainly enjoyed last week’s win but they have stayed grounded because they know they have a big challenge in front of them this weekend against Manly, who are one of the tougher sides to beat and especially so at Brookvale Oval,” Bonasera said. “Unfortunately we haven’t managed to register back-to-back victories this year and that will be our focus, particularly with the bye next week.”
One of the positives derived from the Raiders first seven encounters this year is the never-say-die attitude that the side has portrayed.
The Green Machine has been well in the contest in every match and have fought tooth-and-nail right until the very death. This was exemplified last Sunday with Paul Vaughan’s 78th minute match-winning try.
With combinations developing positively within the side with each match played, the Raiders will prove worthy adversaries for the Sea Eagles, whom are one of the competition favourites this year.
The Raiders have struggled against the Sea Eagles recently having only won twice from their last 10 matches.
Whilst Manly will be without star five-eighth Kieran Foran, who threw the match-winning pass in their last minute win over the Cowboys, Ricky Stuart has been able to name the same 17 from the win over the Storm.
As eluded to earlier, it will be a big occasion for the side’s starting hooker Glen Buttriss who will celebrate his 100th NRL match, all of which have been played for the mighty Green Machine.
“I was pretty excited to play just one NRL match for the Raiders so to get a 100 is something that I’m very happy and proud about,” Buttriss said. “It’s great that I’ve been able to play 100 games for the one club and hopefully I can celebrate with a win in front of my family and friends.”
Buttriss has over 20 family and friends attending the match and will look to deliver another typically tenacious performance from the Cootamundra Bulldogs junior.
Rising star Shannon Boyd will also be in line for another monstrous performance after signing a confidence-boosting two year extension with the club.
Jarrod Croker v Peter Hiku
Arguably in the form of his career, Croker will be out to impress against the Sea Eagles this Sunday to strongly press his claims for a Country Origin jersey.
Croker has been on the cusp of selection for a number of years and revealed during the week just how much selection in the side would mean to him.
“Representing Country and the area you grew up in would mean a great deal to me. You don’t get much more country than Goulburn and as I’ve said previously, I’d love to play for Country but the Raiders come first and foremost.”
Croker’s opposite for this encounter will be the versatile and elusive Hiku. The New Zealand native averages 139 metres for the year and is capable of playing fullback, wing or centre.
With Hiku lining up in the centres this week, Croker, along with left second-rower Joel Edwards, will look to test his defensive capabilities given the added defensive workload that is required the position.
Jack Wighton v Jamie Lyon
With Kieran Foran sidelined with a knee injury for the next month, Jamie Lyon will fill the number six jersey in his absence.
While Foran is a huge loss for Manly, Lyon is not a stranger to the five-eighth role having won a premiership playing there for the Sea Eagles in 2008.
Like Lyon, Wighton is adept at playing five-eighth or centre. The 2013 Country Origin representative has improved with every game he has played in the number six jersey in 2014 and his confidence is increasing as a result.
Wighton’s long kicking game has been particularly impressive and has lead Canberra to be ranked as the number one team in the competition for kick metres.
Both players’ strengths is their running games and watching the dynamic attacking players go head-to-head will be a delight to the fortunate crowd.
Shaun Fensom v Glen Stewart
After signing with the South Sydney Rabbitohs as of next year, Manly lock Glen Stewart is set to come out firing in front of a parochial Brookvale Oval crowd and depart the club on a positive note.
With the Sea Eagles being the only club Stewart has ever known, the former Australian international was looking to remain at the Northern Beaches club however salary cap pressures prevented this from happening.
Stewart is one of the best ball-playing forwards in the game and as such, his opposite number Fensom will have to be at his defensive best this Sunday to nullify the Manly lock’s prodigious passing game.
Fensom is in great form, averaging 128 metres in attack and an incredible 44 tackles in defence. A strong showing against Stewart may allow the Bellingen Dorrigo Magpies junior to force his way into the Country Origin side.
Record against the Sea Eagles:
In a total of 46 games against Manly, Canberra has won 17 games, drawn 1 and lost 28.
Last three encounters:
1. Manly defeated Canberra36-22 at GIO Stadium Canberra on the 25th of August 2013
2. Manly defeated Canberra 16-10 at Brookvale Oval on the 25th of May 2013
3. Manly defeated Canberra 18-12 at Brookvale Oval on the 6th of May 2012
They said it:
Glen Buttriss: “I’ve got over 20 family and friends travelling up from Coota so it will be a big occasion for me and something that I’m very proud of.”
Jarrod Croker: “After the game we spoke about the culture that we’re trying to build at the club. We are playing for each other out there as well as our Members and fans and if it wasn’t me that made the tackle on Slater, someone else would have been there.”
Shannon Boyd: “I’m very excited to re-sign with the Canberra Raiders. The club has been really good to me ever since I was a junior so I was happy to stay and now I’ll concentrate on trying to play some good football and get some more wins.”
Joel Edwards: “Everyone wants to be playing rep footy and I’m no different. I’d love to get the nod for Country and if I manage to get selected I’ll take it with both hands.”