Raiders looking to crush 'sick Tigers' finals dream
by Brent Ford
image credit - rugbyleagueweek.com
The Raiders are unlikely to rest their stars this weekend even if they can't move up to second spot on the NRL ladder earning themselves a home final in the process.
A win this week would make it 10 in a row for the Canberra side, while also making it the club's second greatest ever win streak. Only eclipsed by the great sides of the past that won grand finals in 1989 and 1994. The side has benefited from a three day break to start this week, squashing word that Coach Ricky Stuart might switch the team around if the Sharks defeat the Storm on Saturday night.
For most of this year the Raiders have focused on themselves, and won't let results prior to their match on Sunday affect their mental preparation for their clash with the Tigers at Leichardt. Skipper Jarrod Croker spoke as part of the Raiders media today and says they aren't too concerned on what is happening outside of what the side can control.
"We're in a position where it doesn't really affect us as much as it does a couple of other sides. It's not the be-all and end-all," Croker said.
"Regardless of where we play next week, we're going to be firing and ready to go. We just want to go out there and win on Sunday and keep the momentum going."
The side could meet an under strength Tigers side desperate to keep their 2016 season alive and make the finals for the first time since 2011, with talk a virus has struck down Captain Aaron Woods and veteran Dene Halatau.
On the injury front for the Raiders, five-eighth Blake Austin has begun rehab on his hand after a successful surgery last week, while prop Junior Paulo is on track for a return in week one of the finals.