Rugby League


Canberra Raiders: team unchanged for NRL clash with Newcastle Knights

Canberra Raiders forward Joel Edwards does not hold a grudge with the Newcastle Knights and has put any ill feeling about his controversial departure in the past.

The hard-hitting second-rower is part of an unchanged Raiders side for Sunday night's NRL round two encounter with the Knights at Hunter Stadium.

Edwards could have easily been lining up on the opposite side had the Knights not withdrawn an offer for the Cessnock junior when he was at the club in 2012.

The Knights made a last-minute bid to retain his services, but instead he inked a three-year deal with the Raiders worth a reported $200,000 a season.

Edwards has been a handy acquisition, receiving the coach's award for the Raiders in his inaugural season in Canberra last year and moving into the starting forward pack this season.

"There's definitely not [any grudge] ... it was a decision for my career,'' Edwards said.


"Last year, when I went back and played in front of my family and friends, there was that [special] feeling there. It's a game I like getting back for.''

The Raiders have kept faith with the same line-up which held a 16-0 lead against the North Queensland Cowboys before getting run down, losing 28-22 in Townsville last weekend.

Young gun Jack Wighton has retained the No.6 jersey after having a mixed debut in the five-eighth role, while centre Jarrod Croker has been cleared to play despite suffering a minor quad injury which prevented him from goal-kicking.

Representative props David Shillington (ribs) and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (ankle) have been kept on the sidelines for at least another week.

That has given impressive youngster Shannon Boyd another opportunity after making an impact in his debut against the Cowboys.

Fellow front-rower Paul Vaughan also more than held his own in a personal battle with Kangaroos bookends James Tamou and Matt Scott.

"Shannon Boyd in his debut was outstanding and Vaughany played like he did last year, he was quality,'' Edwards said.

"Our forwards need to match theirs on the weekend for us to win.

"I don't think anyone was out of their depth and there was a lot of good stuff out of last weekend.''

Croker was confident he'll be right to take his place in the side after electing not to take on the goal-kicking duties last weekend.

"It's all good, I just felt it a bit tight in the game and didn't want to risk it,'' Croker said.

"The main thing was the kicking side.

"It's something I pride myself on, but if I can't take the kicks then we have other guys who can.''

The Knights have named an extended 19-man squad, with Tyrone Roberts and Kurt Gidley included, despite initially being in doubt with concussion.

Gidley has been moved to fullback to cover for Darius Boyd, who has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Former Raider Travis Waddell is the new starting hooker.

Meanwhile, Raiders under-20s forward Mitchell Barnett has accepted a two-game suspension for a dangerous throw in last week's loss to the Cowboys.

Barnett was placed on report in the fourth minute, taking an early guilty plea with 92 carryover points.