Titans say time is right for Raiders

Melissa Woods
Jarrod Croker has signed a new deal with Canberra keeping him at the Raiders for another four years

Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook says his team is taking on Canberra at the best possible time but believes the Titans can match any NRL side.

The sides meet for the third straight year in round one, when Gold Coast travel to take on a Raiders outfit still stinging from last year's heart-breaking grand final defeat.

On the back of 2019 ladder standings, with the Titans finishing last, it appears likely to be a one-sided affair at GIO Stadium in their Friday night clash.

But incoming coach Holbrook doesn't see it that way and hopes his team can take advantage of the Raiders' new halves and centre combinations, with English No.7 George Williams and ex-Storm three quarter Curtis Scott joining the line-up.

"They do have a number of changes which I think is good for us," Holbrook said on Thursday.

"I think it's a good time to get an opportunity to play them now but they're still a very dangerous side.

"They've got Josh Hodgson and Jack Wighton who are two fantastic players, they've got a good forward pack, so even so they've got a few changes we're expecting a tough game."

Despite only managing four wins last season, Holbrook felt it was a clean slate and his team would start on equal footing.

He pointed to Parramatta's rise from wooden spooners in 2018 to playing in the semi-finals last season as proof in how quickly teams could turn things around

"I think we're equal to everyone in the competition," said Holbrook, who joins the Titans after leading St Helens to the 2019 Super League title.

"You've seen some lopsided seasons - Parramatta a couple of seasons ago struggled and then they jumped out of the blocks last year.

"It's a fresh season and we're all on the same points at the moment."

Meanwhile, Canberra captain Jarrod Croker has signed a new four-year deal which will keep him at the Raiders until 2024.

The 29-year-old has played 257 matches for the NRL club since making his debut in 2009 and is both the club's leading point and tryscorer.

"I only ever want to play for one club in the NRL and that's the Raiders and hopefully I can see out my career here," Croker saidhe said

The Raiders now have all of their spine players contracted until at least 2022, with hooker Hodgson, halfback Williams, five-eighth Wighton and fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad also committing their long-term futures to the club.

Stats that matter

*This will be the third straight season the Raiders and Titans meet in round one, splitting the previous two results.

* The Raiders have not made consecutive finals series since qualifying for three straight from 2002-04.

* In 2019 the Raiders won just six of 12 matches in Canberra.