Canberra coach Ricky Stuart admits his depleted forwards will face a huge challenge when the NRL’s best pack rolls into Canberra Stadium on Friday night.
Canterbury lead the competition in the hard yard stakes with an average of 1635 metres per game.
The Raiders pack on the other hand have the worst stats in the comp, racking up just 1382 metres per match – two and a half footy fields less than their opponents.
To make matters worse for the stuttering Green Machine, two of their best young forwards Josh Papalii (ankle) and Paul Vaughan (suspended) are out and will be replaced by Jake Foster and Kyle O’Donnell.
The fit and firing Bulldogs pack on the other hand boasts a swag of international players, including Sam Kasiano, Greg Eastwood, James Graham and Tony Williams.
“It’s a huge challenge. They have a very big, aggressive style,” Stuart said.
“They’re one of the form teams and strongest in the competition.”
While the 14th placed Raiders will be playing to save their season, the Bulldogs will also go into the match having lost their last three games.
However behind the Bulldogs’ pack this week will be the NSW Blues’ victorious halves combination of Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson.
Stuart predicted the duo to be brimming full of confidence after returning to the side after the State of Origin series win on Wednesday night.
“They’ll come back with a real skip in their step. They’ll be hard to contain,” he said.
It’s not all good news for the Dogs, however, with Sam Perrett and David Klemmer both out through injury.
Mitch Brown will cover for Perrett at fullback, with Drury Low coming in on the wing.