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Leilua returns for Green Machine's title tilt

Canberra has received a huge boost ahead of their blockbuster clash with the Melbourne Storm with centre Joey Leilua named to run on at AAMI Park on Saturday.

His return caps a remarkable comeback for the 27-year-old, who looked at long odds of playing again this season after undergoing surgery on his neck three months ago.

Leilua was a late withdrawal from the Raiders' clash with Penrith in Round eight at Wagga, leaving the hulking centre on 199 NRL games.

However, the Samoan international, who was in career-best form before being struck down, will achieve the milestone in another crucial match for the Raiders.

Jordan Rapana admitted to "missing" Leilua over the past three months, despite forming a solid combination with Nick Cotric inside him at right centre.

"Fingers crossed all goes well, he's got the all-clear to play so it'll be good to have him back because we all know what he can do, but his health is the number one priority," Rapana said.

"We know what he can do in attack and we have a good combination so hopefully we haven't lost that, and he'll be a massive inclusion."

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Rookie winger Bailey Simonsson, who has scored seven tries and averaged 132 running metres in his debut NRL season, has been moved to the bench to make way for Leilua, while Saliva Havili was named among the reserves.

"There's a lot of quality players in the squad and there's healthy competition for spots so you can’t be sure of your spot," Simonsson said.

"But this has been a bit of a dream to play as many games (this year) and run out with the boys each week, I'm really humbled and happy."

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Simonsson said the Raiders felt they weren't far away from toppling the premiers last weekend and know if they improve in subtle areas they could pull off the upset against the Storm this weekend.

"Our energy and intensity was great, just some finer details that we've spoken about as a group, just really small execution areas that I think we can nail those it'll go a long way to getting the job done against teams like that," he said.

Rapana said the side was relishing playing the top two sides in as many weeks, despite not having recorded a win against fellow top four sides this season.

"It's probably a good time of the year to play them, a good preparation for finals and everybody says we have a tough run home, but I see as a good challenge," he said.

"I really thought in that last five minutes we were going to get there (against the Roosters).

"Score a sneaky try and get away with it (the win) but the desperate signs were there and were in it to the final whistle.

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"Looking forward to another big challenge in Melbourne who are top of the table, so we've got a big task but if we play like we did on the weekend, then we definitely stand a chance."

The future of the one-on-one stripping rule is under the spotlight this week, after Roosters coach Trent Robinson and Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said it's unfair of referees to judge it correctly all of the time.

Stuart's post-match comments last weekend came despite his side being the best in the NRL at exploiting the rule change, with Josh Hodgson and John Bateman particular adept at stealing possession.

"I love it, I just think the people that don't agree with it don't know how to do it," Rapana said.

"We're good at it and I think it's exciting, keep it, the little Poms are good at it."

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.