The Canberra Raiders NYC team travel to Allianz Stadium this Saturday to take on the high flying Roosters, in a game that will be a good measuring stick for where the Raiders are at in 2014.
It’s been an interesting month for the young Green Machine, a host of the group’s older players have been given an opportunity to showcase their skills at a higher level with Patrick Mago, Luke Bateman, Tevita Pangai Junior and Brenko Lee all playing for either Souths Logan or Mounties.
During this period the side has had a mixed bag of results and have struggled to put two consistent performances together. Highlighted by a 54-0 loss to the Warriors, followed by a good 34-16 win over the Panthers with five debutants, to then lose the next week against the lowly ranked Cowboys 44-30 at home.
Coach Mick Mantelli admits it was frustrating to lose last week, but he understands that unlike previous years, this team is a lot younger so it’s all about the development of these boys and not necessarily the results.
“It’s very frustrating, we watched the tape of Warriors flogging us and come out the week after with five debutants and win, then the next week to come out and lose to one of the bottom teams is very frustrating.” Mantelli said.
“We’ve got a lot of injuries at the moment and boys playing up in the feeder teams. There are a lot of new kids in there which brings in a rotation system for the team.
“We’re blooding the younger boys so it’s not about winning at all costs. It’s a development year at the club so we have to make sure these kids get game time so they can play regularly at this level or higher next year.”
Mantelli hinted that it was the side’s attitude and not their ability that was hurting its ability to string consistent performances together.
“We came out weak, I told them they need to concentrate and have a good mental approach to games against these sides, so it’s not something they weren’t warned about it.”
On a positive note the side welcomes back captain Luke Bateman, who comes back into the side after spending some time with the Raiders feeder club Souths Logan with Jamal Nchouki will dropping back onto the bench.
Click here to see this week’s side.
Speedster Thomas Cronan also comes into the side for Jake Wheeler who has been named on the extended bench.
Last week the side was ambushed by a much larger North Queensland side who out enthused the Canberra side. This week doesn’t get any easier with the Rooster’s pack certainly having an advantage in the size category.
Canberra will again look to workhorse Mitchell Barnett to follow up last week’s man of the match performance with another strong showing in both defence and attack.
However the final message from what Mantelli wants to get out this game against one of the top sides in the competition was simple.
“Just tackle them, we need to tackle them because they’ve got some boys with some good size. It’s another game that’s going to come down to attitude, the boys are quite capable of doing it when they want to do it, so again it’s up to them if they want to do it or not.”
The match against the Roosters will be played at Allianz Stadium this Saturday with kick off at 1:10pm.