Sunday’s match at GIO Stadium will be the Canberra Raider’s final home game of the 2020 regular season. The green machine will take on the New Zealand Warriors who will be looking to finish their season on a high after it was confirmed last weekend that they cannot make finals in 2020.
The Warriors will have no pressure on their shoulders and will pose as a dangerous threat against the green machine. Todd Payten’s men have won plenty of admirers this season for the sacrifices that their players have made to keep the competition running.
The Raiders still have one eye on the top four with the Eels sitting one win above them on 26 points. The Raiders need to win their remaining two games to finish in the top four. The Warriors can finish anywhere from 9th to 13th on the ladder and their playing group will be looking to impress incoming head coach for 2021, Nathan Brown.
Behind the Limelight: Corey Harawira-Naera
Last week the Raiders put the Dragons to the sword, defeating the joint venture side 37-8 at WIN Stadium in Wollongong. Ricky Stuart’s side were impressive across the park and most notably in the forwards.
Stuart now has a selection headache with Sia Soliola back to full fitness. Stuart has claimed that he will give Soliola match time in next week’s clash against the Sharks and looks set to name the same 17 that played against the Dragons for this weekend’s match.
The Warriors effectively had their season ended by the Cronulla Sharks last weekend as they succumbed to a 22-14 defeat. Todd Payten has made a number of changes to the side for this weekend’s clash with Parramatta loan players Daniel Alvaro and George Jennings retruning to their parent club, the Parramatta Eels. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown has been ruled out through suspension.
Coming into the side for the visitors are Hayze Perham, Lachlan Burr and Tom Ale with the latter set to make his NRL debut.
The last time these two sides clashed was all the way back in Round 2 when the two sides had to play at CBUS Super Stadium on the Gold Coast due to the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. The Raiders ran out 20-6 winners in hot and humid conditions. Sia Soliola, Elliott Whitehead, Bailey Simonsson and Curtis Scott were the try scorers that day.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad v Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Two of the games best fullbacks go head to head once again. It’s the old master v apprentice match up as the two Kiwi’s go head to head. Tuivasa-Sheck has been a leader on and off the field for the Warriors this year and his match-up against his close friend Nicoll-Klokstad will be an interesting one. CNK leads RTS with seven tries compared to five while the pair also boast three try assists to their name. RTS leads the average running metres count with 223 while CNK averages 178.
Jack Murchie v Elliott Whitehead
Former Raider Jack Murchie will come up against his old club for the first time. Murchie has been able to find regular game time in the second row since joining from the Raiders earlier in the year. Murchie’s last two matches for the Warriors have been impressive with the former Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs junior making 47 and 46 tackles against the Eels and Sharks respectively.
Murchie comes up against Raiders iron man Elliott Whitehead. The England international has been a cog in Ricky Stuart’s side and hasn’t missed a game so far in 2020. Earlier in the year he was singled out by his coach for being the ‘most underrated’ player in the NRL. Whitehead’s experience will be needed if Canberra are to contain Murchie with the former Raider a certainty to be fired up against his old club.
Josh Papalii v Tohu Harris
Whilst both players will not line up directly against each other they will both be crucial to their side’s success on Sunday. Both players are leaders in the forward pack and the battle may well be won in the forwards.
Harris is an 80 minute player and has averaged 173 metres per game whilst also averaging 43 tackles.
Papalii has been described many experts as the best forward in the NRL in 2020. The former Logan brothers junior committed his future to the green machine earlier in the week as he extended his current deal with the Raiders.
Papalii hasn’t featured as much as he would have liked to in the previous two games so it’s lmost a certainty that he will feature quite heavily from now until the end of the season as the Raiders start to click into gear heading into finals.
Best of Josh Papalii
Head to head:
The two sides have faced each other 39 times with the Raiders winning 20 and the Warriors 19.