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Stuart confident mental toughness won't be an issue

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart dismissed suggestions his side might be mentally scarred from two heartbreaking losses heading into Saturday's meeting with North Queensland at GIO Stadium.

The Raiders had chances at the death to secure potentially season defining victories over the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney, with a combined losing margin of 10 points all they have to show for their efforts.

Stuart said the side was hell-bent on avoiding two straight home losses as they face an improving Cowboys side coming off last week's gritty 17-10 home win over Parramatta.

"Going on by our numbers and what we've collected physically they're looking okay," Stuart said.

"They have been up for a big two games and it's been a big fortnight, but good teams can't have a week off.

"That's where we see ourselves so it’s important we stick to that consistency and the benchmark that we're setting ourselves at the moment.

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"We’re only 11 games in so there's no lack of motivation here. I understand why those questions are asked but it hasn't hit me at all in trying to get the players up. They understand how important it is."

Helping the Raiders' chances of staying in the top four is the return of Kiwi international Joe Tapine from an ankle injury.

Stuart isn't sure how much game time Tapine will get this weekend, with his comeback some seven weeks ahead of schedule.

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"I'll just see how the game pans out and how it starts as to when we get him on," he said.

"He's got the ability to play in the middle or on the edge so that's also valuable for us."

Tapine's absence, along with that of Englishman John Bateman, has helped speed up the evolution of the Raiders' younger forwards.

Promising duo Corey Horsburgh and Hudson Young haven't put a foot out of place, standing up when the team needed them last week with their willingness to engage in a running battle with uncompromising Souths enforcer Sam Burgess.

Stuart said Young's adaptability will be crucial this weekend as they try and ease Tapine back into 80 minutes a game.

"He (Young) also shows a bit of utility value, he plays both sides of the field and he can play in the middle too," he said.

"That also gives us a bit of an opportunity to play Hudson or Taps in the middle, but at some stage they'll both be on the field at the same time."

Despite dropping two games in a row the Raiders have lost little in terms of what they are capable off with a healthy playing list this season.

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However, Stuart knows with several Cowboys hoping to play their way into State of Origin selection this weekend, the Raiders can't afford to under-estimate their opponents.

"Nobody can afford to have an off week in this competition. You have an off week and you get beaten," he said.

"It's important we keep sticking to that bench mark we're setting ourselves and if we stay consistent to that we'll win our fair share of games."

In further good news for the club, Bateman (cheekbone) will return to Australia next week to resume training.

"It's been handy to give him a bit of time at home with his family and daughter," Stuart said.

"He hasn’t been able to do too much so he's better off being back there, but he'll get back next week and start again."

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.