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As if a grand final rematch wasn't interesting enough, the expected return of Sonny Bill Williams adds another layer to a clash that will have a big bearing on the top four.

The Roosters are tipped to travel to Canberra with some precious cargo including Williams, who last played NRL in 2014, and potentially other stars who have been in the casualty ward.

With the Roosters (fourth) and Raiders (fifth) both on 22 points, the outcome could determine whether these sides will be afforded a second bite of the cherry come finals time.

Canberra, who are on a three-match win streak, exacted some revenge for last year's premiership defeat when they claimed a famous 24-20 win over the Tricolours in round 10 despite being undermanned.

But the Roosters, who have also had injuries, look to be peaking again after belting the Tigers and Broncos in consecutive weeks.

The rundown

Team news

Raiders: Late changes for the Raiders with Semi Valemei to play wing in jersey No.21 and Nick Cotric going to centre. Matt Timoko is out of the side. Tom Starling will start at hooker and Siliva Havili moves to the bench. Sam Williams dropped off the reserves an hour before kick-off.

Curtis Scott has been ruled out with a leg injury despite being cleared of a fracture last week. Prop Josh Papalii returns to the run-on side with Dunamis Lui going back to the bench. Corey Harawira-Naera will return on the interchange.

Kai O'Donnell was cut from the squad 24 hours before kick-off.

The Raiders are aiming for two wins in a season against the Roosters for the first time since 1990.

Roosters: Skipper Jake Friend will miss the match as the club takes a cautious approach following the head knock he received in round 16. Friend's place is taken by Freddy Lussick.

Two huge names join the team sheet with five-eighth Luke Keary returning from a rib injury in place of Drew Hutchison and superstar Sonny Bill Williams to play his first NRL game since 2014 on the bench.

Second-rower Boyd Cordner will start after getting through his injury comeback last week with Nat Butcher dropping to the interchange. Poasa Faamausili dropped to the reserves and was cut from the squad on Friday while Mitch Aubusson and Hutchison were cut an hour before game time.

Angus Crichton also makes his return from the bench after missing six games with a knee injury.

Centre Josh Morris will make his 300th NRL appearance.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
    Fullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
  • Winger for Raiders is number 2 Jordan Rapana
    Winger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
  • Centre for Raiders is number 3 Jarrod Croker
    Centre for Roosters is number 3 Josh Morris
  • Centre for Raiders is number 5 Nick Cotric
    Centre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
  • Winger for Raiders is number 21 Semi Valemei
    Winger for Roosters is number 5 Brett Morris
  • Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack Wighton
    Five-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke Keary
  • Halfback for Raiders is number 7 George Williams
    Halfback for Roosters is number 7 Kyle Flanagan

Forwards

  • Prop for Raiders is number 8 Josh Papalii
    Prop for Roosters is number 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
  • Hooker for Raiders is number 14 Tom Starling
    Hooker for Roosters is number 14 Freddy Lussick
  • Prop for Raiders is number 10 Ryan Sutton
    Prop for Roosters is number 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
  • 2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 John Bateman
    2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Boyd Cordner
  • 2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
    2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Sitili Tupouniua
  • Lock for Raiders is number 13 Joseph Tapine
    Lock for Roosters is number 13 Isaac Liu

Interchange

  • Interchange for Raiders is number 9 Siliva Havili
    Interchange for Roosters is number 15 Lindsay Collins
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 15 Dunamis Lui
    Interchange for Roosters is number 16 Nat Butcher
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 16 Hudson Young
    Interchange for Roosters is number 17 Sonny Bill Williams
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 17 Corey Harawira-Naera
    Interchange for Roosters is number 18 Angus Crichton

Key match-up

Josh Papalii v Jared Waerea-Hargreaves: Two enforcers at the top of their game and ready to do whatever it takes to gain supremacy in the middle of the park. With the finals just a month away and these sides every chance of clashing in October it's the ideal time for JWH and Papa to make a statement with a powerhouse display.

The premiers are looking ominous with wins in five of their past six games and the impact of JWH and Siosiua Taukeiaho in the engine room has been immense. Papalii has also been in sensational form and will be out to defend his home patch with another 150 metre-plus display.

Stat attack

The Roosters have clicked into gear in the past two weeks, racking up 96 points in big wins over Wests Tigers and Brisbane. The premiers have lifted their average points per game to 28.1 after 16 games. By way of comparison they averaged 26.1 per game in the regular season in 2019 and 22.5 per game back in 2018 when they secured the minor premiership en route to the title.