Raiders winger Nick Cotric.

Cotric: Canberra expecting unexpected from Cowboys

Canberra winger Nick Cotric does not expect the side to carry any mental scars from round one last year when they lost to the North Queensland in bizarre circumstances.

Leading into their return to Townsville this Saturday night, Cotric and the rest of the Raiders aren't thinking about Johnathan Thurston's field goal in extra time which missed but bounced in the in-goal area for Gavin Cooper to dive on the bobbling ball and seal an epic victory.

"I remember the field goal that JT took, hit the cross-bar, bounced back and they scored, it was pretty devastating, so I've got a few flashbacks to that game," Cotric said.

The game does hold some fond memories for Cotric as 1300Smiles Stadium was the site of his NRL debut. Plenty has happened for the 19-year-old in the year since that day - he was named in the Emerging Blues squad after being crowned 2017 rookie of the year.

However, Cotric knows he still has plenty to learn and to still prove in the Telstra Premiership.

"We didn't get the win back then, but it was a big day for me," Cotric said.

"My confidence has improved from when I started last year, I was a bit nervous before games, I still am now.

"You can never be comfortable in the top grade, there's always somebody trying to take your position, so you've always got to be working hard."

Canberra's forwards will again have their nose to the grindstone after they were shown up by South Sydney in their 20-point loss last weekend.

The Rabbitohs ran for 1621 metres as a team, 327 more than the Raiders who were left without possession for large periods in the first half.

Whitehead said the side must get off to the better start in the middle third, or risk having the likes of Jason Taumalolo, Scott Bolton and Coen Hess dominate as the Burgess brothers did last round.

"We all know our forwards, we let ourselves down (against South Sydney) and we've got a chance to fix that this week," Whitehead said.

Whitehead entered an early guilty plea to a high shot on Tom Burgess during a spiteful second-half in Gosford.

The English international said there was no malice in the tackle, despite Fox Sports commentator Brett Finch saying the tackle was as "cheap as it gets".

"I expected Tommy to get the ball and I probably committed and I couldn't pull out when I got there. I'm playing this week so that's all that matters."