Pressure on Raiders to cap champion careers with titles

Canberra are quickly approaching "now or never" status if they're to avoid having a number of club champions finish their careers without an NRL premiership.

Iconic Raiders Jack Wighton and Josh Papali'i are both aged 30 while skipper Elliott Whitehead and Jordan Rapana are 33, meaning four core members of the 2019 grand final side could leave the game without a flag unless they can strike in the next couple of seasons.

Canberra backed up the 2019 grand final effort with a preliminary final appearance the following year, and addressed fears their window had already shut after slumping to 10th in 2021 with a semi-final run last year.

But powerhouse prop Joe Tapine, himself well into his prime at 28, acknowledged there was no time to lose in order to achieve the ultimate together.

"Premiership windows aren't big and the players we have around us - Jacko (Wighton), Paps (Papali'i), Smell (Whitehead) - we're getting into our 30s," he told AAP.

"We need to push to win a competition soon or it might not come.

"I've got a few years and I'll just keep building my game and my leadership around the club."

Wighton, especially, lacks that one precious piece of silverware to complete a set any champion footballer would dream of, already a multiple State of Origin winner and World Cup winner as well as a Clive Churchill and Dally M medallist.

Forward Corey Harawira-Naera said it fell to the middle tier of players - such as Hudson Young (24), Corey Horsburgh (25) Tom Starling (24) and himself - to take their games to new heights to support the stars who have delivered for so long.

"We can't really keep relying on the same core, which means we're going to have to stand up ... guys like me, Hudson, Horsburgh, Emre (Guler), Tommy Starling," he told AAP.

"I'm not much younger than those older guys, but there's a next crop of boys that can start putting their hands up and helping those guys out every week.

"It is a team game and we can't rely on our superstars so I'm pretty keen on hopefully making this step up and helping those poor guys out that are bashing their bodies every week for us."