The Canberra Raiders 2022 campaign kicks off on Friday night as they take on the new look Cronulla Sharks at GIO Stadium.
The Raiders will be full of enthusiasm to start the season after a disappointing end to last year, narrowly missing out on a spot in the finals. But after a strong preseason and great results in their trial matches, the green-machine are ready to be back playing finals footy.
Raiders v Sharks Preview
With two impressive trial wins against the Roosters and Manly, the Raiders looked back at their best, running in nine tries across the games.
Former Dally M winner, Jack Wighton, was in red hot form in the sides 18-16 victory over the Sea-Eagles with a try, a try assist and three tackle breaks. A sight that will get many Canberra fans excited.
Last Time They Met
The Raiders defeated the Sharks 34-18 in round 18 last season and also 12-10 back in round two.
Joseph Tapine v Toby Rudolf
Two of the most damaging forwards in the competition will clash in round one at GIO Stadium, both hoping to get their team off to a winning start this season.
Joseph Tapine is coming off the back of one of his best seasons in his eight year career having averaged 120 metres per game and almost 1,000 post contact metres for the year.
Rudolf on the other hand has proven to be hard to stop, accumulating 1,142 post contact metres last season, finishing inside the top 25 players in the league for that statistic.
There’s no doubt come Friday these two will be leading the charge for their sides.
Jack Wighton v Nicho Hynes
These two stars of the NRL will have a big say in the outcome of Friday night’s match due to their ability to not only break the line with their strength and athleticism but also their ability to create opportunities for their teammates.
Wighton, who will be celebrating his 200th NRL game in round one, has been Canberra’s shining light for a decade with his game-breaking tries and tough as nails attitude.
Nicho Hynes, arguably Cronulla’s biggest signing for 2022, comes into round one with a lot of expectation upon him. Fans will be wanting to see whether that blistering form he had for Melbourne last year will carry through to this season.
There’s one thing for certain about this match and that is these electrifying talents will be putting on a show.
Hudson Young v Briton Nikora
In the battle of the young second-rowers, the two number 11s will be wanting to start their 2022 season off with a bang.
Hudson Young, who will also be celebrating a milestone game this Friday with his 50th appearance, has shown immense promise. Young averaged 100 metres per game last season and had a career high 633 tackles made overall.
Briton Nikora has been a reliable player for the Sharks ever since he entered the league, averaging 80 metres a game and over one offload in 2021.
These two will definitely be looking to inject energy and grit into their respective sides to help deliver a round one victory.
Head to Head
The Raiders and Sharks have faced off 45 times since 1998 and the Sharks have a slight advantage with 23 wins to 22. Will the Raiders tie things up or will the Sharks extend their winning record?