Defiant Raiders won't back down after tough NRL start
There's no panic in Canberra despite the Raiders' 0-2 start to the NRL season, with coach Ricky Stuart stating belief remains high among his squad.
Staring down the barrel of their worst start to a campaign in five years, Canberra have a difficult challenge on Sunday hosting dangerous Cronulla in their first home game of the year.
But Stuart said he hadn't felt the need to emphasise the importance of the clash, insisting high effort levels throughout the opening losses assured him the team would click in the coming weeks and keep pace with the NRL pack.
"We don't need to tell them where we are, they will understand that. No one loves winning more than the players so they're all out there trying to win," he said.
"Sometimes you don't know if you get more frustrated playing well and losing, or if you get your pants pulled down and get beaten by a really good team.
"I prefer to be playing very well and just being unfortunate in a couple of areas, and there's moments we didn't win in both games, those little moments you've got to execute properly to win the big matches.
"They're working hard and we're still very positive, we've got a lot of belief in this squad."
They were gallant fighting back from an 18-0 hole in North Queensland before eventually falling 19-18, but coughed up their own lead in a disappointing 20-14 loss to the Dolphins last weekend.
The Raiders' loaded forward pack has covered the injured Josh Papali'i (calf) well but are still organising their backline without fullback Xavier Savage (jaw), with Sebastian Kris warming to his role deputising in the No.1 jersey.
While they've been defensively robust, kick coverage caught them out twice against the Dolphins with Kris bobbling a grubber and centre Matt Timoko failing to deal with another which both leading to tries.
But Stuart said the defensive lapses weren't systemic and his young backline would continue to grow with time together.
"We had two people on the spot there last week to make a play ... we just had two players that didn't perform and execute their role," he said.
"(Kris) was one of their best players last week in those conditions ... he was very calm, he knows the role, he's played the role as a junior so we've got all the confidence in the world in him as a second fullback.
"It is very young, but it was very young last year and all of a sudden you had a guy who was unlucky to not be picked in the World Cup in Matty and we had a guy picked in the World Cup in Seb.
"They've got careers in front of them, it's a matter of them learning quickly."