Austin and Papalii will be back with a bang: Rapana
Motivated by missing out on the side's first victory of the season, Canberra Raiders winger Jordan Rapana has tipped Blake Austin and Josh Papalii to have a massive impact on their clash with the Parramatta Eels in round six.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart made the first of two selection shocks when he dropped off-contract star Austin to reserve grade two weeks ago.
Austin was quickly followed by Papalii, with the pair watching on as an undermanned Canberra side downed the Bulldogs last Thursday.
Rapana said the recalled pair felt the pain of missing out and would use it as motivation when they tackle an equally-desperate Eels side at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.
"I don't think it will change the momentum of the team, if anything it'll add to the team," Rapana said.
"Austo is a quality player and we all know what Papa can do, so if we can play for each other and like we did last week, we can beat any team."
Papalii looks set for fewer minutes than was the case earlier in the year after the Origin star was named on the bench, something fellow back-rower Luke Bateman is looking forward to.
"The way we've been using our forwards, the rotation, I don't think it'll change things too much," Bateman said.
"You have a guy like Papa coming on and probably playing a few less minutes, he might be able to get through a bit more work.
"That excites me really, to see the big man running a bit more."
Bateman, who is also off-contract at the end of the 2018 Telstra Premiership season, said the demotion of Austin and Papalii was the "wakeup call" the side needed after starting the season 0-4.
"It was a tough couple of weeks and those blokes, unfortunately, felt the brunt of it in getting dropped," he said.
"It was quite a wakeup call when the blokes of that calibre are being sent back [to the Intrust Super Premiership] because they weren't performing.
"We still know we've only won one game out of five so there's still a lot of hard work in front of us.
"But we know we have to keep putting in performances like we did on the weekend, so we'll be able to dig ourselves out of this."
Jack Wighton will be free to play after pleading not guilty to nine charges relating to a nightclub brawl in the pre-season on Wednesday. Bench utility Ata Hingano should be right to play this weekend, despite being heavily concussed in the Bulldogs match.
The Eels have been boosted by the return of Clint Gutherson, who has not played seen since round 20 of last season after tearing his ACL.
Fellow returnee Bevan French adds even more spark in attack.
The Raiders forwards led from the front in the early going against the Bulldogs last weekend, with Sia Soliola providing the defensive standard expected with several huge hits.
"Looking in from the wing, seeing your forwards do that it lifts you," Rapana said of the forward's performance.
"When you get the ball, you want to take as many carries as you can or pull off a big play for them.''