Hodgson backs Raiders' winning behaviour

Oliver Caffrey
Canberra left it late to score the match-winning try against Canterbury in round 17 of the NRL

Canberra star Josh Hodgson has backed the response of Raiders players after their dramatic victory over Canterbury last week.

Centre Jospeh Leilua received some criticism for the way he celebrated the match-winning try against the Bulldogs as the Raiders pulled off an extraordinary comeback.

But Hodgson says the Raiders carried themselves in a good manner and it won't affect them leading into Saturday night's clash with North Queensland at GIO Stadium.

"There was a lot of media around BJ (Leilua) and the response and that's kind've heat of the moment.

"I thought the response by the boys afterwards was classy.

"We all got in a group and spoke that we'd been in the Dogs' situation many times and that was important that we be humble and not to rub it in their face."

The English hooker will play in front of Canberra fans for the first time since returning from ACL surgery in round 15.

The Raiders have had three away games in a row and will be on the road for another three after playing the Cowboys as they look to stay in the finals race.

Despite North Queensland languishing near the bottom of the ladder, Hodgson knows how desperate they will be.

The Cowboys' State of Origin players Gavin Cooper and Coen Hess have been named while prop John Asiata slots back in after recovering from a pectoral injury.

The Raiders' only Origin representative Josh Papalii will back up after playing for Queensland on Wednesday night.

"They'll (Cowboys) want to send 'JT' (Johnathan Thurston) off as best they can and they'll be hoping to hit a bit of form in the back end of the year," Hodgson said.

"We were very ordinary last week (despite winning) and we'll have to improve."

The Raiders' task will be made more difficult with replacement fullback Brad Abbey, who deputised for the suspended Jack Wighton, out with concussion.

It means star winger Nick Cotric shifts to fullback but New Zealand international Jordan Rapana is back in the No.5 jersey after a hamstring injury.

Gold Coast-bound prop Shannon Boyd (calf) and Joseph Tapine (suspension) will also miss the match.

The Raiders beat the Cowboys in Townsville for the first time since 2006 in round eight, while Paul Green's team were victorious in Canberra 31-18 last season.

STATS THAT MATTER

- North Queensland have won 14 of their past 20 games against Canberra, dating back to 2007.

- The Raiders' past two matches at home have both been decided by a single point, beating Manly in round 12 and losing to Penrith two weeks later.

- Canberra winger Nick Cotric has scored at least one try in his past eight matches and is aiming to become just the second Raiders player to cross for a four-pointer in nine successive games.