Raiders young gun ruled out for NRL season

·2-min read

Canberra teammates are rallying around shattered young gun Xavier Savage after the teenage excitement machine was ruled out for the rest of the NRL season with a shoulder injury.

Scans have determined Savage requires surgery after hurting his AC joint in Saturday night's season-saving win over Cronulla on the Gold Coast.

The 19-year-old has been a revelation since debuting last month, the former Queensland state junior sprinting champion adding energy and electric pace to the Raiders' spluttering campaign.

He bagged the match-sealing try against the Sharks to thrust Canberra back into serious finals contention before Thursday night's clash with fourth-placed Parramatta.

Winger Jordan Rapana will cover for Savage at fullback and said he'd already offered some words of encouragement to the Cairns-born speedster.

"I reassured him today that he's still young and these setbacks happen in your career and told him not to let this hold him back because we've seen in his two games the superstar that he can become," Rapana said.

"He's obviously come and shown a lot of energy and a lot of spark and the player that he is, he's been a massive add to our team so it's quite sad for him.

"But he's young and he's full of youth so the injury that he has shouldn't keep him out too long and hopefully he can get that fixed up and he'll be right to go for the start of the pre-season."

Savage adds to Canberra's growing injury list, which includes representative stars Jack Wighton (ribs) and Elliott Whitehead (shoulder), as the Raiders look to continue their climb up the ladder with a win over the Eels.

Even playing his 150th game, Rapana admitted he has big boots to fill, declaring Savage as "rapid" under foot.

"I'm still yet to see him just open up. I'd like to see him go against (Josh) Addo-Carr," said Rapana, who will be starting in the No.1 jumper for only the second time in six years.

"It's a bit better at least being given a week's notice, rather than being chucked in there 10 minutes into a game against the Panthers like I was last time.

"Just to get that mental preparation and also get the body fit and ready.

"But, no, I feel as though I'm confident and comfortable enough to cover there."

Incredibly, after making the grand final two years ago, then the preliminary final in 2020, Canberra are chasing three straight wins for the first time all season.

"We've gone back to the basics," Rapana said of their two big wins over top-eight outfits Cronulla and Manly.

"But Parramatta are a top-four team for a reason so there's no better way to tests ourselves this week."

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