Canberra may have lost a couple of marquee men but fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad believes their premiership window remains firmly open.
The departures of John Bateman, who has returned home to England to play for Wigan, and Bulldogs recruit Nick Cotric have depleted the Raiders of two strike weapons heading into season 2021.
However, after bowing out in a preliminary final against eventual premiers Melbourne last year, Nicoll-Klokstad is confident Canberra are still capable of going all the way.
"We've had that little period to prepare for [Bateman and Cotric's exits]. The players that are coming in to take over those two great players, they're great players in themselves as well," he told NRL.com.
"Whether they be cemented NRL players or they haven't really had a shot at it yet. We've got a really good system at the moment where we've got really great young kids coming through.
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"Also the people that were on the fringes last year, they've got an opportunity to stake their claim for a starting position or a regular position in the NRL."
Corey Harawira-Naera, who joined the Raiders midway through last year from Canterbury, and impressive 22-year-old Hudson Young are in contention for Bateman's second-row position.
Another Englishman - 20-year-old Harry Rushton, who like Bateman was recruited from Wigan - has impressed Nicoll-Klokstad and may force his way into the selection picture.
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Meanwhile, a fit-again Bailey Simonsson could replace Cotric on the wing after a shoulder injury cruelled him in 2020.
Reflecting on the season gone, in which Canberra finished fifth, Nicoll-Klokstad admitted "it was a little bit of an opportunity lost for us" despite a hefty injury toll, particularly in the forwards.
"We put ourselves in a really good position to go [to] back-to-back grand finals. We really know that we just need another chance at another grand final to I guess make up for the 2019 one [loss to the Roosters]," Nicoll-Klokstad said.
On a personal level, Nicoll-Klokstad built upon his breakout 2019 campaign and pushed himself towards an elite-level fullback.
Still, he's not satisfied.
"I've been talking to the coaches, and I was really proud of how far I'd come last year because when you look at videos from 2019 and go to 2020, there was a lot of improvement," he said.
" ... There were a lot of things that I took out of last year, especially that Melbourne game, and I'm just really looking forward to putting it into place during training because that's where it all starts.
"I wouldn't really put myself in that top NRL fullback bracket at the moment, just because I do know there's a lot of areas in my game that I want to improve on.
Nicoll-Klokstad slides over for his second
"Obviously you've got to work on the things that you're really good at first and just start adding strings to your bow."
Nicoll-Klokstad's appetite for studying his contemporaries in the No.1 jersey is renowned. Last year he was given a video system by club statisication Joel Carbone and used it at home to analyse the likes of James Tedesco, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Clint Gutherson.
The New Zealand international hopes to take a bit from each of their games to work into his own repertoire.
"Anticipation of the game – someone that's really good is Gutho. Tedesco – it sort of comes natural for him," he said.
"[I study] seeing their cues, what does that look like. I [want to add] a bit of consistency in my game as well. If you had to put two players up for it, it would be Roger and James Tedesco.
"They're quite consistent with the way they play, their running game, putting themselves in positions to improve their team's games."