The Canberra Raiders season is all on the line this Thursday night when they take on the Sydney Roosters at BB Print Stadium, Mackay.
The Raiders walked away with an impressive 28-16 win over the New Zealand Warriors last weekend, through some individual brilliance from man-of-the-match Jordan Rapana to keep the green-machine’s finals hopes alive.
The Roosters were on the receiving end of a 54-12 loss to the South Sydney Rabbitohs last Friday night, who will be eager to turn that result around in Thursday’s blockbuster.
The Raiders welcome back some strike power in the backline with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad set to start at fullback for the first time since round five.
Last Time They Met
The Roosters defeated the Raiders 44-16 in the NRL Indigenous round back in round 12 of this season.
Rapana talks new deal, form and Raiders' finals push
Josh Papalii v Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Two of the best front-rowers in the competition will meet on Thursday night – this time with the stakes a little higher with both sides looking to cement their position in the top eight.
Josh Papalii’s work rate has increased over the past month pumping out some of his biggest minutes all season, all while averaging 13 hit-ups and 35 tackles.
Waerea-Hargreaves has displayed one of his best seasons to date, leading his injury-riddled forward pack around to play for a top four spot this Thursday night.
No doubt this pair will lead from the front and leave everything on the park when they match-up this Thursday night.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad v James Tedesco
Charnze finds himself in the number one jumper for the first time since round five after coming off the interchange-bench the last couple of weeks since returning from a neck injury.
Although, Nicoll-Klokstad will have his work cut out for himself this weekend when he faces one of the game’s best in James Tedesco.
The Raiders attack will show more creativity and structure this Thursday with Charnze inserted in the starting line-up and interim fullback Jordan Rapana returning to his beloved right wing.
Tedesco will be keen to enprint his hands on the contest after suffering a heavy defeat last weekend against Souths and will be looking to carry some form into the finals series.
Keep a close-eye on these two stars, especially in the middle of the field where both players like to lurk around the play-the-ball and can strike at any given moment.
Jack Wighton v Drew Hutchinson
Both big bodied five-eighths, Wighton and Hutchinson will look to control their left-side of the field and unleash their strike power on this contest.
Wighton was back at his best last week after having a hand in almost of all of the Raiders points last weekend.
Hutchinson, who has shown promise throughout his 2021 campaign, has stood in as the Roosters starting five-eighth for the early injury to Luke Keary and done a brilliant job.
These two will look to inflict their energy and running ability in this contest and can create opportunities for their respected sides.
Head to Head
The Raiders and Roosters have faced-off 41 times, with an edge to the tri-colours taking out 27 wins to Canberra’s 14.
Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-KlokstadFullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
Winger for Raiders is number 2 Harley Smith-ShieldsWinger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
Centre for Raiders is number 4 Matthew TimokoCentre for Roosters is number 3 Josh Morris
Centre for Raiders is number 5 Jordan RapanaCentre for Roosters is number 4 Adam Keighran
Winger for Raiders is number 19 Semi ValemeiWinger for Roosters is number 5 Matt Ikuvalu
Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack WightonFive-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Drew Hutchison
Halfback for Raiders is number 7 Matt FrawleyHalfback for Roosters is number 7 Lachlan Lam
Prop for Raiders is number 8 Josh PapaliiProp for Roosters is number 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
Hooker for Raiders is number 9 Josh HodgsonHooker for Roosters is number 9 Sam Verrills
Prop for Raiders is number 10 Joseph TapineProp for Roosters is number 13 Isaac Liu
2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Hudson Young2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Angus Crichton
2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Sitili Tupouniua
Lock for Raiders is number 13 Iosia SoliolaLock for Roosters is number 15 Egan Butcher
Interchange for Raiders is number 14 Emre GulerInterchange for Roosters is number 14 Sam Walker
Interchange for Raiders is number 15 Ryan SuttonInterchange for Roosters is number 16 Ben Marschke
Interchange for Raiders is number 16 Corey HorsburghInterchange for Roosters is number 17 Tuku Hau Tapuha
Interchange for Raiders is number 17 Siliva HaviliInterchange for Roosters is number 26 Naufahu Whyte
Reserve for Raiders is number 20 Elijah AndersonReserve for Roosters is number 19 Brad Abbey
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
- Touch Judge: Todd Smith
- Senior Review Official: Grant Atkins