The Raiders will line up for their first match of the 2019 season when they face the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on Sunday night.
Canberra opened their 2018 campaign with a loss against the Titans, however are hoping to start the season off strong with a win up in Queensland.
The Raiders are coming off an impressive pre-season, defeating both the Parramatta Eels and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs after trailing at half-time in both matches.
The Titans will enter the clash full of confidence, following their 25–22 trial win over the Brisbane Broncos.
The Green Machine have named six new faces in their 21-man squad, including young fullback Charnze Nicoll-Kolkstad, whilst the Titans have named three new recruits in the starting side, including former Raider Shannon Boyd.
Debutants Jersey Presentation
Last Time: The Raiders defeated the Titans 32–18 in last season’s round nine clash at GIO Stadium. The Raiders led 20–0 at halftime, with the victory meaning the Green Machine had won four games on the trot.
NRL.com preview: Titans v Raiders - Round 1
Josh Papalii v Shannon Boyd
The two huge props will go head to head in what will be a fiery match between Papalii and Boyd, his first match against his old side.
Papalii will hope to continue dominating in the middle of the park, and will be looking to continue his fine form after winning his second Meninga Medal last year.
Having played at lock last year, Boyd’s departure allowed the Queenslander to move to prop.
Boyd will walk out onto the field for the Titans for the first time, after ending his four year NRL career with the Green Machine, and will be looking to make a monumental impact for his new side after being named in the starting line-up.
Expect both players to be heavily involved in the middle of the park, both eager to start the season off with a bang.
Papalii ready for forwards battle
Jack Wighton v Tyrone Roberts
It’ll be an important opener for the two five-eighths, with both players wanting to start off the 2019 season on the stronger foot.
Wighton will be hoping to lock down his new position after being named to start in the halves and will still be hopeful to add his attacking flair to the front line.
After setting up two tries for Nick Cotric in the trial match against the Bulldogs, Wighton will aim to continue that form when he makes his NRL return.
Roberts will be looking to continue his fine form into 2019. After helping guide the Indigenous All-Stars to a 34–14 win over the Maori All-Stars, and being awarded the Preston Campbell Medal as Man of the Match.
Both players will be hoping for the best possible outcome on Sunday night and the performances of the two new five-eighths will be crucial in deciding the outcome.
Jarrod Croker v Brian Kelly
The two centres will be looking to get back into the action, with both hoping the 2019 season brings a positive change in their direction.
Croker has been named to start his first NRL game since suffering a knee injury in round 18 last season. Despite missing the final third of the season, the Raiders co-captain still finished the season and the club’s highest point scorer of the season.
The Goulburn Stockmen junior will be eager to continue his form as he remains only six tries behind the Raider’s all-time try scoring record.
Kelly returns to the Titans after two seasons with the Sea Eagles, and will be hoping to show the form that he displayed for the Titans in the NYC competition, where he scored 35 tries in 54 games.
The battle in the centres will be a match between experience and youth, as the two centres come together on Sunday night.
I can’t believe how quick it’s gone, I still pinch myself sometimes. It’s already my third season, I feel like I’m going to debut on the weekend, I can’t believe it.Nick Cotric
Head to Head: In 22 matches between the two sides, the Titans have the slight advantage with 12 wins in comparison to ten wins by the Raiders.