The Canberra Raiders will take on the Manly Sea Eagles at 6pm on Friday at Suncorp Stadium.
The Raiders are ninth on the ladder and tied with the eighth-placed Titans on competition points. However, with three games to go, every match for the Raiders is an opportunity to push their case for a place in the finals.
In a massive boost for the Raiders, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad returns to the side and will come off the bench. Nicoll-Klokstad has been an absolute standout for the Raiders in recent seasons, and it will be interesting to see how he is interjected into the game.
The Sea Eagles are coming off a 56-10 demolition of the Eels last week, and they look to be in season-best form. Manly still hasn’t confirmed if superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic will play on Friday, but they are still a very dangerous side even without him.
Last Time They Met
The Raiders defeated the Sea Eagles 30-16 in round 17 earlier this year.
Jack Wighton v Kieran Foran
Jack Wighton put on a clinic last week, and despite being in a losing side, was one of the best players on the field. Wighton’s play-making game was on point last week, throwing sublime cut-out passes, taking on the line and setting up tries with ease.
Wighton will be the key to getting the Raiders’ attack in full swing. When Wighton plays with total confidence, he can seemingly break the defensive line at will and is a phenom close to the try line.
Kieran Foran’s return to Manly has been welcome inclusion into Des Hasler’s side. After struggling with injuries and form over previous years, returning to Marley has seemingly turned back the clock of Foran’s career.
While he is no longer the explosive running half he once was, Foran’s rugby league IQ and understanding of Des Hasler’s game plan make him a crucial part of Manly’s push for a premiership.
Joseph Tapine v Martin Taupau
Joseph Tapine is clicking into gear at the right time of the year. Over recent weeks he has rediscovered the form that had made him of the most dangerous forwards in the game.
It was actually against Manly in round 17, where Tapine really hit his stride. He went over 200 run meters in that game and had the Manly pack in all sorts with his power and footwork.
He’ll be against fellow Kiwi Martin Taupau in the battle of the front-rowers. Taupau is having a season to remember - averaging over 150 run meters per game as well as being solid as a rock in defence.
One of the reasons why Manly’s attack has been one of the best this year has been thanks to the likes of Taupau setting an excellent platform for their backs to work off.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad v Dylan Walker
When Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad went down with a neck injury earlier this season, it looked like he would be out for the year. But he has returned earlier than expected, and just in time for the Raiders push for a finals berth.
Nicoll-Klokstad brings pure energy to the Raiders’ side, never giving up on a play. Having him on the field will drive the standards of his teammates and bring the grit and determination that the Raiders need for a must-win game.
Dylan Walker also brings a certain x-factor off the bench. Manly coach Des Hasler has been injecting Walker into the middle of the field as a lock where his ball playing and natural rugby league ability opens up the game for Manly’s superstars, Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic.
Head to Head
The Raiders have played the Sea Eagles 60 times, with 22 wins, 36 losses and two draws.