While the Bulldogs and the Wests Tigers have gone on pre-season buying sprees, the Raiders have been relatively quiet in the market, with most of the 2022 squad retained.
To cover the loss of Ryan Sutton, Josh Hodgson and Adam Elliott, the Raiders have recruited Newcastle middle forward Pasami Saulo and former Knights, Broncos and Manly hooker Danny Levi.
Saulo, who joins the Raiders from the Knights, is an interesting proposition as he looks to build on his 11 games for Newcastle last season.
He’s a strong candidate to fill a bench role alongside Emre Guler, behind Joe Tapine and Josh Papalii.
Because of the way the modern game is played, there is also the possibility that Saulo could be a contender for the number 13 role as a middle forward.
At his best for the Knights, in a career interrupted by injury, Saulo was a destructive force and, if fully fit, could prove to be an important buy for the Raiders.
With 112 games for Newcastle, Manly and Brisbane, Levi will apply plenty of pressure on Zac Woolford and Tom Starling.
Both Levi and Saulo will get plenty of game time on Sunday in the absence of 12 to 13 top squad players, including Tapine, Papalii and Jack Wighton.
With up to 13 key players missing, there is also an opportunity for Xavier Savage, Guler and Corey Horsburgh to provide a glimpse of their improvements in their game in the off-season.
Horsburgh and Harawira-Naera, used sparingly last season, would be well aware of the Raiders’ interest in securing the services of Gold Coast backrower David Fifita.
The Raiders still have space for Fifita in their top squad for 2023.
In many aspects, the cases of Danny Levi and Pasami Saulo represent what is g reat about rugby league, a game of opportunity with a limited time span.
Clearly, players are doing everything possible to make the most of that window of opportunity.
The Raiders take on the Bulldogs at Ack Weyman Oval, Moruya, on Sunday, 12 February. Tickets and details from Eventbrite.