Raiders v Eels: The Contenders
With the Raiders claiming their first victory against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Thursday night they now face a challenging prospect of backing up that performance against a desperate Eels side who will be fired up to grab their first win of 2018.
The win over the boys from Belmore comes at a cost for the green machine as they lost several players to injury during the clash. Ata Hingano, Michael Oldfield, Sam Williams, Aidan Sezer and Luke Bateman all sustained knocks on Thursday night.
Williams picked up an injury to his medial ligament in his knee and will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks. Here’s who could come into the side during his absence.
Blake Austin: The firm favourite for this one. Austin was withdrawn from the Mounties squad against the Panthers over the weekend and will more than likely slot straight back into the NRL side alongside Aidan Sezer. Austin will be recharged after a week off and raring to go on Saturday night.
Ata Hingano: The Tongan international left the field for a HIA assessment on Thursday night and will be assessed by Raiders staff during the week. Comfortable at five-eighth or halfback Hingano has lately been deployed as a utility although the injury to Williams could see him slot into the halves.
Michael Oldfield was a late inclusion into the starting side on Thursday night after Jack Wighton withdrew following the birth of his second child. Wighton will be expected to return to the side and Oldfield will be assessed this week after also leaving the field for a HIA assessment (not needed).
Jack Wighton: The fullback has been in terrific form for the early rounds of the 2018 season and will most likely retain his place at fullback for the round six clash at GIO Stadium. Cotric was impressive on Thursday night however Jack’s strong form should see him return to the number one jersey.
Brad Abbey: Ricky Stuart could throw a selection surprise and name Brad Abbey at fullback for the match against the Eels. Abbey has been outstanding for the Intrust Super Premiership side scoring four tries in five games.
Luke Bateman suffered a knock against the Bulldogs and pending an assessment this week he should be available again for the Raiders against the Eels. The green machine will have a strong replacement ready if the former Miles Devils junior doesn’t get through the week.
Josh Papalii: The Queensland State of Origin representative was in action for Mounties over the weekend as they endured a tough afternoon against the Penrith Panthers. Bateman’s absence could see Papalii jump back into the second-row with Elliott Whitehead moving to lock.