Raiders tackling machine Shaun Fensom and Sharks star Paul Gallen will square of in today's NRL clash. Photo: actnathan.gilson
CANBERRA captain David Shillington says the Raiders must ''fight fire with fire'' if they are going to contain the NRL's most damaging forward, Paul Gallen.
The Cronulla Sharks skipper and former Raiders playmaker Todd Carney hold the key to the visitors extending their five-match winning streak at Canberra Stadium today.
Gallen's statistics are phenomenal, averaging a mighty 217.6 metres and 29 tackles per game while he regularly plays the entire 80 minutes.
He's also had 30 tackle breaks and contributed 27 offloads in the opening seven rounds of the competition.
Gallen has been used predominantly at lock for the Sharks but has been switched to great effect to the front row for both NSW and Australia, where he partnered Shillington in last week's Test match against New Zealand.
''I guess we just have to fight fire with fire, get up in his face and drag him down the best we can,'' said Shillington, when asked how the Raiders planned to stop Gallen.
''He's a strong fella and goes all day. If we do a good job on him hopefully we can bring down the rest of their pack as well.
''He's a pretty destructive player.''
Gallen's grunt work up the middle of the park combined with Carney's attacking brilliance are a major reason why the Sharks are third on the ladder.
Carney has made a brilliant transition to the Shire, turning around last year's mid-season sacking from the Roosters to rocket into favourtism for the NSW five-eighth jersey.
The Goulburn junior has a 2-1 record against the Raiders in the three times he's faced his old club since he had his contract terminated for a string of off-field incidents in 2008.
Carney hasn't played at Canberra Stadium since he led the Roosters to a 22-12 win in 2010, with the Raiders turning the tables in a 36-12 thumping at Allianz Stadium last year.
The Sharks are on track for their best season since 2008 when they finished third on the ladder with a 17-7 record.
They had won just 19 of their past 72 games before this year and failed to make the finals in each of the past three seasons.
''The Sharks are red hot at the moment, there'd be a great buzz around their camp,'' Shillington said.
''I can just imagine, they've had a tough couple of years on and off the field.
''We'll have to stop their enthusiasm early in the game.
''If we can stop their pack going forward and control Todd Carney, hopefully we can control them.''
While wary of the damage Gallen and Carney could do, Raiders coach David Furner warned his side against focusing all their planning on the dangerous duo.
''We can't isolate or focus on one player,'' Furner said.
''They've had five wins because the team's playing well.
''They're very strong in the forwards and defensively we've got to be our best.''