The Raiders will be looking to get their 2018 season off to a winning start when they face the Titans Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday night.
After narrowly missing the finals last season the Raiders will be looking to get off to the sort of start that will allow them to repeat their 2016 heroics where they finished second on the ladder and fell one game short of the Grand Final.
The Titans won’t be short of motivation themselves, looking to make a fresh start under new coach, Garth Brennan, after a disappointing 2017 season in which they finished 15th.
The Raiders will be without their star Hooker, Josh Hodgson, until July after he injured his ACL playing for England during the World Cup, with new signing Siliva Havili to take his place, but they are otherwise at full strength for this Round 1 clash.
The Titans meanwhile are looking to unleash new signings Michael Gordon, Bryce Cartwright, Jai Arrow, Mitch Rein and Leilana Latu on Sunday night.
Last Time: The Raiders were dominant when these two met in Round 6 last season. A Jordan Rapana hattrick headlined an eight try to three rout.
The Raiders would obviously love a repeat of that result but with only six of the Titans who were involved in that match set to play this week the men from the Gold Coast will provide a very different challenge this time around.
Konrad Hurrell vs Joseph Leilua
Two of the biggest centres in the NRL go head to head this week. Both players are coming off a World Cup campaign where Hurrell was part of his native Tonga’s incredible semi-final run and Leilua represented his ancestral home, Samoa.
Throughout his career Leilua has used his size and agility to draw defenders and unleash his killer offload which has allowed him to develop a deadly partnership with Jordan Rapana over the last two seasons.
Hurrell matches Leilua for size and runs as hard as any player in the NRL when he’s at his best. He’s a player that nobody likes to tackle and has the potential to be a real attacking threat for the Titans this year.
Jack Wighton vs Michael Gordon
In the NRL the contest between fullbacks is always an important one. Wighton had another impressive season for the Green Machine last year and will be hoping to get his 2018 campaign off on the right foot.
Gordon is set to make his debut for the Titans this week after making way for James Tedesco at the Roosters. Even at 34 years old Gordon moves to the Gold Coast with plenty of expectations and will take on the goal kicking duties this season.
Joseph Tapine vs Ryan James
A battle between two big second rowers who have both recently made the switch from the front row. The Raiders’ depth in the front row has allowed Tapine to move to an edge, while James has made the move after displaying a try-scoring prowess in recent seasons.
Both will be looking to make an immediate impact in their new position and will relish the opportunity to add an extra element to their side’s attack.
Quote of the Week: “I’m very grateful to be back at the club and to have the opportunity in Round 1 to go out there and wear the green jersey, I’m extremely excited and just can’t wait to get out there.” -Sam Williams
Head-to-head: These two have met 20 times before and there isn’t much to split them. The Raiders have finished on top nine times while the Titans have been the victors in the other 11 meetings.