Canberra Raiders “shoved it straight back” in the face of critics, says Stuart

Lachlan Roberts 15 April 2018

Ricky Stuart wary of winless Eels ‘clicking’ this Saturday night. Photo: Supplied by Canberra Raiders.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said the Green Machine has proved the doubters wrong who called the Canberra side an unfit football team.

After a dreadful start to the season, the Raiders ended a four-match losing streak with a 26-10 win over the Bulldogs last week with just one fit player on the bench.

“All the critics were telling me over the last month that we were an unfit football team. We played with five interchanges last week so I think that shoved it straight back in their face,” he said.

“I thought individually we were strong, especially the first half and we covered one another’s back quite well, which I expect from our boys because last week we had a fair bit of adversity to play under and they handled that pressure and that fatigue very well.”

The former Eels coach is wary of Parramatta and has his fingers and toes crossed that the winless side won’t click this Saturday night.

The Eels are dwelling on the bottom of the ladder but the Raiders coach is expecting the Eels to bounce back.

“I am always wary of good football teams and you can see in the competition at the moment, there are 16 teams that are very good football teams,” Stuart said on Friday morning.

“Everyone’s beating each other at the moment and Parramatta have a wonderful team there.”

“I sense they’re about to click and let’s just hope it’s the week after this one. They’ll click at some stage.”

After being dropped after the Raiders round three loss, Blake Austin will return to five-eighth following a knee injury to Sam Williams.

Stuart admitted that he was impressed with the response from Papalii and Austin as the pair return to the side for the Saturday night clash.

“The way Josh and Blake have handled themselves with their attitude has been fantastic and they will both be great additions to the team this weekend.”

Canberra Raiders vs Parramatta Eels at GIO Stadium, Saturday 7:35 pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

Raiders squad: 1. Jack Wighton, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Sia Soliola, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Junior Paulo, 11. Joe Tapine, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Luke Bateman. Interchange: 14. Ata Hingano, 15. Shannon Boyd, 16. Josh Papalii, 17. Dunamis Lui, 18. Liam Knight, 19. Michael Oldfield, 20. Brad Abbey, 21. Jack Murchie.

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