The Toyota Forklift Raiders will play for back-to-back wins as they take on the Newcastle Knights away from home on Sunday afternoon.
After winning their first game of the season against the Cronulla Sharks last weekend, the Canberra Raiders will look to build on their performance and maintain some consistent results for a spot in the top eight.
The Raiders defeated the Knights in both of their previous meetings in 2022, with Hudson Young scoring in both of those matches to secure the victories.
Having put in valiant performances against previous opponents, the North-Queensland Cowboys and the Dolphins, the Raiders finally made it third time lucky sealing their first win in a gritty 24-20 win against the Sharks.
Josh Papali’i has been named to play his first game of the year after recovering from a calf injury, pushing Emre Guler to the bench.
Zac Woolford will replace Danny Levi at hooker, who underwent surgery on a broken jaw suffered in last week’s game.
James Schiller also retains his spot on the wing with Nick Cotric out for an extended period with a hamstring strain.
Due to some key player losses last week against the Dolphins, the Knights will be looking to recoup some star players as they play in front of their home crowd for the second time running.
The Knights have named Jayden Brailey, Jack Johns and Kurt Mann to make their returns this week, with Tyson Frizell being named on the reserves in a hope that he could be a late inclusion for the match.
Dom Young has been dropped by the Knights with Greg Marzhew taking over on the wing.
In what will be an important win for either side, the Raiders will look to capitalise on the Knights poor home record in which they have only won one of their past twelve games in Newcastle.
Match: Knights v Raiders
Round 4 -
Fullback for Knights is number 1 Lachlan MillerFullback for Raiders is number 1 Sebastian Kris
Winger for Knights is number 2 Hymel HuntWinger for Raiders is number 2 James Schiller
Centre for Knights is number 3 Dane GagaiCentre for Raiders is number 3 Matthew Timoko
Centre for Knights is number 4 Bradman BestCentre for Raiders is number 4 Harley Smith-Shields
Winger for Knights is number 5 Greg MarzhewWinger for Raiders is number 5 Albert Hopoate
Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Tyson GambleFive-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack Wighton
Halfback for Knights is number 7 Jackson HastingsHalfback for Raiders is number 18 Matt Frawley
Prop for Knights is number 8 Daniel SaifitiProp for Raiders is number 10 Joseph Tapine
Hooker for Knights is number 9 Jayden BraileyHooker for Raiders is number 14 Tom Starling
Prop for Knights is number 10 Leo ThompsonProp for Raiders is number 17 Emre Guler
2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Lachlan Fitzgibbon2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Hudson Young
2nd Row for Knights is number 22 Tyson Frizell2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
Lock for Knights is number 13 Kurt MannLock for Raiders is number 13 Corey Harawira-Naera
Interchange for Knights is number 11 Brodie JonesInterchange for Raiders is number 8 Josh Papali'i
Interchange for Knights is number 14 Phoenix CrosslandInterchange for Raiders is number 9 Zac Woolford
Interchange for Knights is number 15 Jack HetheringtonInterchange for Raiders is number 15 Pasami Saulo
Interchange for Knights is number 16 Mat CrokerInterchange for Raiders is number 16 Corey Horsburgh
Replacement for Knights is number 18 Dylan LucasReplacement for Raiders is number 19 Brad Schneider
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
- Senior Review Official: Grant Atkins
Last time they met
In their previous meeting, the Raiders defeated the Knights 28-22 in round 23 last year at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Josh Papalii v Daniel Saifiti
Josh Papalii will play his first game of the season after suffering a calf injury before round one this year.
The Maroons superstar will bring much-needed force and heavy-hitting to the Raiders outfit as he will look to back up his strong 2022 season in which he recorded the most tackle breaks and highest tackle efficiency for the green machine.
He averaged 124 running metres and 39 offloads for the season, bringing a lot of aggression when taking on his opposition.
In what will be his 265th appearance for the club, he brings a plethora of experience and composure to the side as he will look to win the battle in the middle of the park against his opposite number, Daniel Saifiti.
A worthy opposition, Saifiti has got his 2023 season off to a strong start averaging 140 metres in his first three games of the year.
Making his NSW Blues debut last year, Saifiti is a player not to be messed with when he’s in the mood, making hard runs and having a high tackle efficiency percentage.
Making his debut for the Knights in 2016, he has transformed himself into a leader within the team and a workhorse within the forward pack.
Matt Timoko v Dane Gagai
Timoko had a stellar breakout season for the Raiders in 2022, cementing his spot in the right centre position.
The New Zealand international played all 26 games for the team last year and was the second-highest try scorer with nine tries.
Scoring his first try for the year against the Sharks last weekend, Timoko also set the tone for the game, making a line break and two line-break assists to give them much-needed field position.
Timoko will be coming up against the veteran Gagai who is a very experienced centre having maintained his consistency for many years at the top level.
Gagai is a representative for Queensland Origin and Australia, having also won the Wally Lewis medal in 2017 and has a combined try and assists tally of 150 across his career.
Making two appearances for the season so far, he averages 169 running metres and has two try assists to his name going into round four.
In what will be his 249th career appearance this weekend, Gagai’s flare and deception will be one to keep an eye out on as he looks for the line or sets up his winger to score.
Jamal Fogarty v Jackson Hastings
After making his comeback to the NRL with the Wests Tigers last year, Jackson Hastings provides direction and energy to the Knights side.
Hastings joined the Knights for the 2023 season after making his NRL return at the Tigers, claiming seven try assists and averaging 135 running metres.
With great game-management skills, Hastings brings a lot of composure and calmness to the team allowing them to coordinate their attack with better fluidity.
The Raiders also boast a quality halfback in Jamal Fogarty who will play his 60th career appearance.
It is Fogarty’s second year as a Raider, partnering with Jack Wighton in the halves to spark magic and creativity in attack.
Although sustaining a pre-season injury in 2022, he eventually made his debut for the Raiders in round 12 of that same season and went on to claim the top points scorer for the club with 116 points.
Fogarty’s kicking game is one to be commended on, kicking for 296 metres on average and forcing three drop outs so far this season.
Fogarty will be hoping to apply as much pressure as possible on the Knights back line with well-placed kicks and guiding his team to points-scoring opportunities.
Head to Head
The two teams have played each other on 43 occasions with the Raiders edging out the win tally with 21 to 20, and two draws a piece.