With winger Jordan Rapana facing an uncertain future, coach Ricky Stuart says the Raiders must dig deep to counter their growing casualty ward.
Rapana suffered a knee injury in Sunday's 30-24 loss to the Roosters and although Stuart was unsure about the extent of his injury immediately after the game, he is set to join Luke Bateman (knee), John Bateman (eye socket), Joe Tapine (ankle) and Joey Leilua (neck) on the sidelines.
"I know where we are as a squad," Stuart said.
"With the quality of player we have got sitting on the sideline at the moment, and it looks like another one in Jordan [Rapana], if we can just notch up a couple of wins here or there and keep punching away until they all get back it is doing two things.
"It is getting us a fresh footy team at the back end of the season and we are getting a lot of experience for younger players who I think are still learning how to play NRL.
"We have three guys out there who haven’t played double-digit games in the NRL and from a coaching point of view that’s a positive for those young blokes – Charnze [Nicoll-Klokstad], Hudson [Young] - and Bailey [Simonsson] who got his chance and did well when he got on."
Sign up for a free NRL Account to access this video and other exclusive content.
Already have an NRL Account?
Not sure? Learn more about NRL Account
The Raiders had the NRL's best defensive record prior to the clash and Stuart was forced to make key personnel changes to his right edge with John Bateman and Leilua out. The knee injury to right winger Rapana during the match didn’t help, but Stuart said there were other reasons for the leakage of points early than the right side.
"We started really lethargically and not the way we planned," he said.
"We got penalised out of the first half and the weight of possession and the penalty count blew us away.
"They had let a few teams back into it after blowing them away in the first half, so we spoke during the week that it was a game that was going to be won in the second half but we had to start well but it is hard when you are copping so many penalties against you."
He conceded the "soft try" the Raiders let James Tedecso score straight after half-time was the difference in the end.
The Raiders fought back from 30-6 behind to narrow the gap to six through tries to Nicoll-Klokstad, Jack Wighton and Michael Oldfield, and a last-minute raid down the left almost led to another try but an inside ball by Nick Cotric went forward.
"A lot of other teams letting that football team get that many points in front of them, I’ve seen teams throw the towel in, but that is not in our character," Stuart said.
"We spoke about it at half-time that we had to find composure ... and I think we had more composure in the last 20 minutes of that game than we did in the first 60."