Must-win NRL clash for Raiders against NZ

·2-min read

If Canberra are serious about their top-eight push this NRL season, losing isn't an option when they host the NZ Warriors on Saturday afternoon.

The Raiders might head into the contest as sizeable favourites given their 8-9 record compared with the Warriors' 5-12 while still glowing in the aftermath of their famous win against Melbourne last weekend.

But it looms as a 'banana peel' match Canberra fans are all too familiar with.

Canberra have only won back-to-back games twice this season and have triumphed just twice in their last 10 outings when coming off a win.

But Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said he hadn't allowed his side to get complacent, ensuring they re-focused on the Warriors the day following the 20-16 Storm win.

"It's wonderful to win that game in Melbourne ... coming back now playing at home, we want to make our fans proud as well and we want to come back and continue that type of performance," he told reporters.

"We're gonna have another tough game but we've put ourselves into a position now that the the outcome of this season will be depending on us, we won't have to worry about any other football team."

The Raiders (10th, 8-9, -37) remain locked in a four-way go for eighth on the ladder, battling Manly (eighth, 9-8, +32), the Sydney Roosters (ninth, 8-9, +49) and St George Illawarra (11th, 8-9 -112).

The Warriors have little to play for outside of pride but Stuart acknowledged that made them extra dangerous.

"They're a big physical football team, they've got nothing to lose and they play a very exciting style of footy," he said.

"They're happy to throw the footy around and that makes it even tougher when they're out there with nothing to lose and we've got everything to gain."

The Warriors have made the curious decision to bench Brisbane-bound fullback Reece Walsh and replace him at No.1 with Chanel Harris-Tavita, who's committed to taking a sabbatical in 2023.

They regain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak on a wing, while mid-season signing Daejarn Asi replaces young gun Ronald Volkman in the halves.

The Raiders get skipper Elliott Whitehead and winger Nick Cotric back from injuries, although the absences wing duo Jordan Rapana (suspension) and James Schiller (injury) mean Albert Hopoate will play just his second game for the Raiders.

Hopoate played 11 minutes off the bench last weekend.

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