3 August 2020

Another injury blow for Raiders ahead of tough test against Panthers

| Henry Jacobs
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Canberra Raiders player Semi Valemei warming up before game.

Canberra Raiders winger Semi Valemei. Photo: Canberra Raiders.

The Canberra Raiders have been dealt a cruel blow ahead of their toughest match of the season.

After being tested by an injury crisis in his team’s forward pack in recent weeks, coach Ricky Stuart now faces a shortage of outside backs with rookie winger Semi Valemei ruled out of Saturday’s round-13 clash against NRL ladder leaders the Penrith Panthers with a knee injury.

“Valemei has suffered a medial ligament injury and will miss three to four weeks,” the club confirmed on Monday, 3 August.

The Green Machine are currently on a three-match winning streak following a hard-fought 14-12 win over North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville on the weekend, and sit in fifth place on the ladder despite the mammoth injury toll.

Valemei joins Bailey Simonsson (shoulder), Josh Hodgson (knee), Corey Horsburgh (foot), Sia Soliola (facial fractures), Emre Guler (ankle) and Andre Niko (knee) on the sidelines.

“Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad will be assessed this week to see if he can return from a finger injury, while Michael Oldfield will also be assessed following a recent hamstring injury that has kept him out for the past two matches,” said the Raiders.

Valemei only made his NRL debut three weeks ago in Canberra’s grand final rematch win over the Sydney Roosters, but he has made an immediate impact. The flying Fijian scored a try against the Rabbitohs in round 11 and has so far amassed 183 run metres as he has worked his way into the starting side.

In other Raiders news from round 12, the NRL Match Review Committee has cleared Josh Papalii after an incident during the club’s win over the Cowboys. The prop’s forearm made contact with fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow’s head early in the second half but was deemed innocuous.

Canberra shock contender to host 2020 State of Origin opener

Sideline view of Canberra Raiders players about to kick off game at GIO Stadium.

Canberra Stadium could host game one of this year’s State of Origin series. Photo: Canberra Raiders.

Canberra is reportedly being considered to host the opening game of this year’s State of Origin series.

Game one is scheduled to be played at Adelaide Oval on 4 November, but South Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions could create a logistical nightmare with the NRL grand final being played at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium just 10 days earlier, on 25 October.

The growing number of COVID-19 cases in NSW means there is a strong possibility players could still be required to isolate for 14 days after entering South Australia. Currently, anyone entering the state from NSW faces mandatory quarantine.

Given that several Blues and Maroons players could likely feature in the grand final, the NRL is weighing up alternative options.

Melbourne and Perth have served as neutral venues for State of Origin in recent years in a bid to expand the market of the series. Both cities are off the table with Victoria currently in lockdown and the Western Australia border still closed.

A decision on the venue for game one has to be made in four weeks, which could play into Canberra’s favour. The ACT Government is expected to review the current Canberra Stadium crowd cap of 1500 this week, and the potential for a sizeable crowd is an advantage.

Canberra has never hosted a State of Origin game in 40 years of the series.

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