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2021 NRL Round One Preview, Raiders Vs Tigers

Brendan Wood previews the clash between the Canberra Raiders and Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon in Canberra. This is what we have to look forward to:

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: GIO Stadium, Date: 14/03/2021, Time: 4:05pm AEDT

Canberra Raiders

  1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
  2. Bailey Simonsson
  3. Sebastian Kris
  4. Curtis Scott
  5. Jordan Rapana
  6. Jack Wighton
  7. George Williams
  8. Josh Papali’i
  9. Josh Hodgson
  10. Dunamis Lui
  11. Hudson Young
  12. Elliott Whitehead
  13. Joseph Tapine
  14. Siliva Havili
  15. Ryan Sutton
  16. Iosia Soliola
  17. Ryan James
  18. Sam Williams
  19. Tom Starling
  20. Emre Guler
  21. Harley Smith-Shield

Team Changes

IN: N/A
OUT: N/A

Wests Tigers

  1. Daine Laurie
  2. David Nofoaluma
  3. James Roberts
  4. Joseph Leilua
  5. AJ Kepaoa
  6. Moses Mbye
  7. Luke Brooks
  8. James Tamou
  9. Jacob Liddle
  10. Joe Ofahengaue
  11. Luke Garner
  12. Luciano Leilua
  13. Alex Twal
  14. Tommy Talau
  15. Thomas Mikaele
  16. Stefano Utoikamanu
  17. Russell Packer
  18. Jock Madden
  19. Michael Chee Kam
  20. Tuki Simpkins
  21. Alex Seyfarth

Team Changes

IN: N/A
OUT: N/A

Referee: Gerard Sutton

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Raiders

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Captain Jarrod Croker will miss the opening game of the season as he continues his recovery from off-season shoulder surgery. Sebastian Kris has won the race to replace him in the starting side, beating out Matt Timoko. Hudson Young starts in the back row spot vacated by John Bateman. New recruit Ryan James will make his club debut off the bench while Saliva Havili and Ryan Sutton have pushed Tom Starling and Emre Guler back to the reserves.

Corey Horsburgh and Corey Harawira-Naera are out of the squad and suspended for one and two weeks respectively following off-season drink-driving charges.

2021 Raiders Season Preview

Tigers

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The Tigers boast a healthy list of off-season signings making their club debuts. Daine Laurie has been given first crack at the fullback role after being named to start at the back. James Roberts will start at centre inside David Nofoaluma. New captain James Tamou and former Bronco Joe Ofahengaue will line up together in the front row. Moses Mbye shifts to five eighth to partner Luke Brooks in the halves. Tommy Talau will come off the bench in jersey 14 after Asu Kepaoa won the left wing spot.

Adam Doueihi and Zane Musgrove will both miss the game due to suspension.

2021 Tigers Season Preview

PREVIEW

The Raiders are poised for another big year under coach Ricky Stuart. They were one game away from a Grand Final before they ran into a Storm side who eventually won the premiership. They have lost stars Nick Cotric and John Bateman but they still have plenty of firepower in attack and defence to worry the Tigers.

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Jack Wighton is coming off a career year in which he won the Dally M player of the year award and will be pivotal in leading the Raiders to a win. In addition to Wighton, the return of Josh Hodgson in the hooking role is a huge boost after he spent most of last season on the sidelines. His deceptive play and creativity will give the Raiders an advantage and they’ll lean on his experience in the absence of Jarrod Croker.

The Tigers come into this year as an unknown with so many new faces in their squad to start the year. They have the unenviable task of playing in Canberra to open the season – a tough place to play anytime of the year let alone in Round One.

Their new look spine of Daine Laurie, Moses Mbye, Luke Brooks and Jacob Liddle will need to get their combinations right if they are any chance of troubling a stingy Raiders defence. The speed of James Roberts could help them open up the Raiders and create some attacking opportunities if the spine can get him some early ball.

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The forward battle will be interesting to watch – both packs have representative experience mixed in with young rising stars. James Tamou leads the Tigers pack, while Josh Papali’i leads the Raiders pack. Something’s got to give and whichever pack gains the upper hand early will go a long way to victory.

KEY STAT

Since the Wests Tigers joint venture began in 2000, these two sides have played each other 38 times and there is nothing between them, both sides have 19 wins apiece. In recent years, the Raiders have dominated the Tigers, winning seven of the last eight games the two clubs have played, some by some big margins. Over that eight game span – the Tigers have only managed to score more than 12 points on one occasion and have been outscored 288-74.

PREDICTION

The Raiders are heavy favourites to win and for good reason. They are playing at home and have a relatively settled team. The Tigers on the other hand will be trialling out new look combinations all across the park. This could work in their favour as the Raiders won’t know what to expect – or it could backfire. Expect both teams to be up for the fight in a close game, but the Raiders will do enough to get the win in front of their home fans.

Raiders by 10.

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