CANBERRA READY FOR WOUNDED COWBOYS
THE Canberra Raiders believe North Queensland could emerge from allegations of salary cap breaches as an even greater force.
The Green Machine travels to Townsville today six weeks after having their hearts broken by a fulltime Johnathan Thurston field goal, and they are bracing for another slick Cowboys performance after allegations against the club were made by Fairfax media on Tuesday.
“It will probably bring them more together and work to- wards something,” Raiders second rower Sia Soliola said.
“It’s just one of those things where they will just react the best way possible.’’
From wearing extra clothing during training to simulate tropical conditions – to adding an extra day to their travel – the Raiders are leaving no stone unturned in their mission to make amends for last month’s 21- 20 home defeat against North Queensland.
Sunday’s 34- 24 away victory over Penrith put the Raiders ninth on the NRL ladder, and one win away from potentially surging to seventh if other results go their way.
They may have dropped two competition points in their last encounter against the Cowboys, but Raiders lock Shaun Fensom believes his team found chinks in North Queensland’s armour.
“We will want to get some revenge, but we learned a lot from that game and we found a few weaknesses in their defence and that sort of thing, and hopefully we can expose them again this weekend,” he said of Saturday’s game.
“Our strength and conditioner has been putting procedures in place; we have to wear more clothing at training to get our bodies used to sweating more and exhausting yourself more at training.
“We’re making sure we hydrate more at training because obviously up there you’re going to lose more fluid, and we’re just getting used to all those little things that add up to the big picture.”
There are obviously bigger hurdles than the weather standing between Canberra and a win at 1300SMILES Stadium, however, and Thurston is just one of them.
Strong performances across the whole park at home against the Parramatta Eels in Monday night’s 46- 4 win – in particular the final 20 minutes – have the Cowboys in real contention for a minor premiership.
But there is an enterprising rake in particular that both Fensom and Soliola concede could tear Canberra’s defence to shreds.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work for Jake Granville because we were pretty loose up the middle ( against Penrith) and we need to fix that, because he’s very explosive out of dummy half and he ran riot against Parramatta,” Fensom said.
“We didn’t handle ( James) Segeyaro as well as we would have liked, so we’re working to fix that against Granville.’’
Soliola said: “If you take your eye off Granville just that little bit he’ll get you.”