Sam Williams will make an incredible return to the Raiders squad by starting in the halves with Aidan Sezer in the Raiders opening match of the season on Sunday night.
Williams played for Wakefield in UK Super League season last year and came back to Canberra on a two-year deal to mount a challenge of becoming a starting half, with Sezer and Austin being Canberra’s first-choice halves for the past two years.
“It has been a long hard pre-season and you put a lot of effort into being right for round one. I’m grateful to be back at the club and to have the opportunity in round one to go out there and wear the green jersey. I’m extremely excited and just can’t wait to be out there now,” Williams said.
This is the Cooma junior’s third stint at the Raiders and he did not expect to be given his chance this early in the season.
“I didn’t come back here thinking that it would happen so quickly but when you show up for training on November 1, you obviously want to try in every session and try to win everything that you can and to just give yourself the best possible opportunity to be able to play in round one. The way things have worked out, Ricky has given me the opportunity and I guess that hard work that I put in was worth it. ”
The 26-year-old was given 65 minutes to make his case in the Raiders pre-season trial loss to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs a couple of weeks back in which he played alongside Sezer in the 16-12 defeat.
The halfback said he isn’t looking beyond the first round match and the uncertainty in the starting positions doesn’t affect the way he plays.
“Everyone wants to be starting the game of football but the minutes that you play out there could vary week to week. I think everytime you go out there you want to play well and I don’t think it matters whats happening next week. You go out there on that field and expect to play your best football and win the game. It shouldn’t matter who is following you or whose trying to come for your jersey, you just wanna play well and win,” Williams said.
“I have played enough footy with Blake and Aiden to understand how they play and to understand what my role will be when they are on the field.”
Blake Austin will come off the bench as head coach Ricky Stuart announced his starting 13 on Tuesday afternoon. Elliott Whitehead will start the match at lock, with Joe Tapine set to start in the second row.
Canberra Raiders will run out onto the Cbus Super Stadium at 6:30 pm on Sunday against the Gold Coast Titans. The match will be live on FoxSports.
Canberra Raiders starting side to face Gold Coast Titans:
1. Jack Wighton
2. Nick Cotric
3. Jarrod Croker (C)
4. Joey Leilua
5. Jordan Rapana
6. Aidan Sezer
7. Sam Williams
8. Junior Paulo
9. Siliva Havili
10. Shannon Boyd
11. Josh Papalii
12. Joe Tapine
13. Elliott Whitehead
14. Blake Austin
15. Luke Bateman
16. Dunamis Lui
17. Sia Soliola
18. Charlie Gubb
19. Brad Abbey
20. Royce Hunt
21. Craig Garvey