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Words by Tynesha Gillett

Round one is finally here and Joe Tapine is ready to bounce back into another year of football with the first match against the Gold Coast Titans on Friday. 

After a tough pre-season, the team is ready to get back into it, with the new players having first tasted their new home in the brand new Raiders Huawei Centre in Braddon, which opened on the 6th of March 2020. Raiders lock Joe Tapine admits that the team is excited to begin the new season in their new home.

“The new facility feels great, it's a little empty at the moment, but I'm ready to get in and begin to create some new memories definitely blessed to have such a nice facility.”

Tapine admits that he's glad to see the back of pre-season and is keen to get the season going and is hungry for more game time after a solid hit-out against the Bulldogs a couple of weeks ago in Port Macquarie.

“You can do all the running you want but when it comes to games, it’s a different fitness, it was a good hit up for the boys getting our bodies ready so that we can expect what is going to come this weekend against the Titans."

The Raiders will be missing some key players for the first couple of rounds, John Bateman, Hudson Young, and Ryan Sutton will be sitting out this game due to suspensions and injuries. 

“John (Bateman) is going to be missed but it won't be long until he’s back on track again.” 

What Tapine’s main goal for his first game of 2020 is to give more contribution to his team after having a tough season last year due to injuries to his thumb and ankle, which was followed by a suspension in round 22 against the Melbourne Storm. 

“I've definitely made it my goal this year to play more minutes, I want to contribute during the match as much as I can so that I can help my teammates.”

Tapine admits that his side cannot afford to be complacent and is wary that they now have a target on their back after their success of making it through to last year's grand final.

“We know that there will be a lot of teams coming after us now especially after the season we have just had. Ricky has been keeping us grounded so we are wary that we will have a target on our backs this season.”