Canberra looks forward to downing Dogs
Michael Picker during the Raiders' captain's run at Canberra Stadium on Friday. Photo: Colleen Petch
The last time they met, Canberra ended a dominant Canterbury winning streak with a performance just as authoritative.
And David Shillington says the Raiders' 34-6 hammering of the Bulldogs in round 25 last year gave them confidence they can compete with the game's best.
With star fullback Ben Barba in supreme form, the Bulldogs rode into Canberra Stadium on the back of a 12-game winning streak.
It was emphatically snapped by a Raiders side in the midst of a late season revival which propelled them into the finals. Shillington said the Raiders want to prove it wasn't a fluke when they meet again in a trial at Goulburn Workers Arena on Saturday night. ''I think we raised a few eyebrows the way we played against the Bulldogs last year, it gave us a lot of confidence,'' Shillington said. ''It's been a struggle for us getting back that home-ground advantage and making Canberra Stadium a fortress.
''That's the way we want to kick off this year with a fast start, unfortunately we haven't come good until the mid-part of the season recently.''
Matt McIlwrick won't play, the Raiders opting to rest the young hooker after he dislocated a rib last week against NSW Cup sides Mounties and Wyong.
With first-choice rake Glen Buttriss also racing the clock to be fit for round one with an ankle injury, Mick Picker will start at hooker. Picker has played most of his career in the halves, but played two first grade games as bench hooker in 2011, and played dummy-half for Mounties last season.
Second-rower Joe Picker will sit out with a minor back problem with Jarrad Kennedy his replacement, and former Bulldog Jake Foster promoted to the starting line-up.
Canberra had no problem scoring points last year, and the off-season has been largely devoted to fixing their often leaky defence. It will be given a stern test against last year's beaten grand finalists, with only Melbourne and North Queensland scoring more points than Canterbury last year.
''We played an understrength Storm team [in first trial] and then reserve grade teams [Mounties and Wyong], it's hard to judge how we've been going so far this pre-season,'' Shillington said. ''We're aiming to be up in the top three or four defensive sides in the comp, and if we do that we'll be hard to stop.''
Raiders coach David Furner said resting McIlwrick is only precautionary, and expects him to be available for selection in round one.