Injury concerns ... David Shillington may miss the start of the season. Photo: Melissa Adams
Canberra Raiders star Brett White has backed the front row to lift should injured prop David Shillington miss the start of the NRL season, adamant Paul Vaughan's emergence and his own return from a major knee injury can fill the void.
Queensland and Australia representative Shillington suffered rib cartilage damage in Canberra's 34-14 trial loss in Newcastle on Saturday night, and will undergo scans early this week.
The 30-year-old faces a race against time to be fit for round one against North Queensland in Townsville on March 8.
He is the only Raiders regular in doubt for the season opener, and is likely to be cautious after admitting he shouldn't have played after aggravating a similar issue against the Warriors in round six last year.
Shillington carried rib cartilage damage into the match but lasted just six minutes before popping a rib out of its socket, missing the next two games.
''No doubt he's probably learned a lesson from that, he'll know when he's right,'' White said.
''Obviously it'd be good to have everyone on board, but we're in a pretty good position where we only have one player in doubt for round one. While it's disappointing for Shillo, it's a really good position to be in as a squad.''
White missed the majority of 2012 after busting his anterior cruciate ligament, and returned in round three last year.
He's now primed to hit this season running while Vaughan was outstanding in 18 games on his way to winning Canberra's rookie of the year award.
Should Shillington be sidelined it could solve a potential selection dilemma for coach Ricky Stuart, with seasoned veterans Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Dane Tilse also options.
Vaughan was one of Italy's best at the World Cup, and White doesn't expect the 22-year-old to suffer a letdown.
''Vaughany just keeps building on his game,'' White said.
''You see a lot of so-called second-year syndrome, he's very aware of that and that only happens when you stop working as hard as you did to get there. I've got no doubt the boys will be fine.''
White also backed skipper Terry Campese to fire immediately against the Cowboys, despite opting not to play in any pre-season trials.
''He's had a massive pre-season,'' White said.
''I remember when I first came back from the World Cup [with Ireland] before Christmas, I was amazed with the way he was moving and how fit he looked.
''Once you've got some experience you can come into a season without trials and hit the ground running. I've done it myself a couple of times.''