Rugby League

SET OF SIX

Canberra Raiders hit jackpot again with English recruit Elliott Whitehead

1. Can Elliott Whitehead continue his form?

Last season the Raiders struck gold with their English Super League recruits Josh Hodgson and Iosia Soliola. This year they looked to have unearthed another smart purchase in Elliott Whitehead. The former Catalans player arrived in Australia as a back-rower but given recent injuries to halves Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin, he has been shifted to five-eighth to partner Sam Williams. Whitehead was impressive against the Knights last week in the halves, laying on two tries while still making 37 tackles.

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2. How will the Roosters get their first win?

The Roosters face the realistic prospect of starting the first month of the season winless. They play a Manly side boosted by the opening win last Monday night. The Roosters have been hit by more injury woes with Ian Henderson and Dale Copley joining Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Boyd Cordner and Mitchell Pearce on the sidelines. Young halves Jackson Hastings and Jayden Nikorima are struggling to get the support they need, playing behind a struggling forward pack.

Handy pick-up: Raiders recruit Elliott Whitehead takes on the Newcastle defence on Saturday.
Handy pick-up: Raiders recruit Elliott Whitehead takes on the Newcastle defence on Saturday. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

3. Trent Merrin returns to Wollongong

Merrin faces his former club St George Illawarra for the first time on Sunday. Merrin left in bitter circumstances, claiming the club hand gone back on a handshake deal which would have extended his time there. Instead, the Kangaroos representative linked with the Panthers. He missed Penrith's last start win against Brisbane with glandular fever but has recovered in time to play. Merrin and Penrith teammate Jamie Soward won a premiership at St George Illawarra in 2010.

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4. Ending the losing streak

Barring the Knights finishing with another draw, either Newcastle or New Zealand will end their losing streak on Sunday. The Warriors are desperate. Billed as a genuine premiership threat, they have struggled with cohesion and discipline so far this season as pressure mounts on coach Andrew McFadden. The young Knights showed the spirit coach Nathan Brown has been craving during their hard fought draw against Canberra.

5. What will Robbie Farah's impact be?

Farah returns from a knee injury to play his first game of the season for the Wests Tigers on Monday afternoon. Farah brushed off a turbulent 2015 and dedicated himself to cementing the starting hooker role at the club, only to be setback by a trial match injury. In his absence, he has watched the Tigers play a free-flowing brand of football. He hopes it will invigorate his running game, as he loosens the shackles and allows young halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks to take charge of the running of the side.

6. Will Cronulla end the Storm hoodoo?

Cronulla have not beaten Melbourne since 2012, and have won just one of their past 11 encounters against the Storm. They head into Monday's clash with five consecutive losses to Melbourne. Cronulla will host Melbourne on Monday and despite a solid start to the year, the Sharks have won one of their opening two games. Their attacking combinations need more impact to go with the new-look halves pairing of Chad Townsend and James Maloney. Melbourne are the only team to win all three games this season.

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