28 July 2020

Positive news for Nicoll-Klokstad after gruesome injury

| Henry Jacobs
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Canberra Raiders

Ricky Stuart had only 20 fit players for last weekend’s meeting with South Sydney. Photo: Canberra Raiders.

Fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has a chance of returning to the Raiders’ lineup in time for their blockbuster clash with NRL pacesetters Penrith on Saturday week after a favourable injury prognosis.

The New Zealand international suffered a gruesome compound dislocation to the little finger on his left hand during Canberra’s 18-12 win over the Rabbitohs and went straight to hospital after the game.

The club confirmed on Monday that Nicoll-Klokstad “has had minor surgery and will miss one to two rounds of footy”.

As a result, he will sit out this week’s trip to Townsville but could make the journey to Sydney for the Raiders’ Round 13 meeting with current ladder leaders Penrith.

The news is a welcome boost on the injury front for coach Ricky Stuart after a horror run left him with only 20 fit players for last weekend’s meeting with South Sydney.

To fulfil NRL requirements, Stuart was forced to name forward John Bateman in his 21-man matchday squad to face Souths despite having no intention of playing him.

The Englishman, who will return to Super League club Wigan at the end of the season, hasn’t played in 2019 after shoulder surgery but may return against bottom-placed North Queensland.

In more positive news, Bateman’s long-term replacement in the second row, Corey Harawira-Naera, joins the club this week following his release from the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. The Kiwi could also face the Cowboys pending clearance from the NRL to enter the Raiders bubble.

Josh Papalii and Joseph Tapine are yet to receive clearance from the Queensland Government to travel to Townsville after refusing to have the flu shot earlier in the season.

Maroons prop Papalii is reportedly considering having the injection while Raiders officials have applied for an exemption for Tapine.

Titans captain Ryan James set to join Green Machine

Gold Coast captain Ryan James is on the verge of being unveiled as the Raiders’ second signing in the space of a week.

The prop has agreed to a two-year deal from 2021 thought to be worth around $400,000 a season but he needs to pass a medical examination with club doctors before it becomes official.

James has been plagued by knee injuries in recent years, playing just six times in the last 18 months after two reconstructions. He is still recovering from his latest setback in pre-season.

The 29-year-old made his NRL debut for the Titans in 2010 and played 144 games for the club. He could link up with the squad as early as next week.

It’s another important addition to Canberra’s forward stocks on the back of Harawira-Naera’s signature last week and the impending arrival of teenager Harry Rushton from English Super League club Wigan Warriors on a three-year deal from 2021.

In the short term, the Raiders pack will likely be without co-captain Josh Hodgson (knee), Corey Horsburgh (foot), Sia Soliola (facial fractures) for the remainder of the season. Bateman (shoulder) is being considered for a return this weekend while Emre Guler (ankle) is expected to return to the paddock in round 17-19.

North Queensland Cowboys v Canberra Raiders – Saturday, 1 August, 5:30 pm.

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