Injuries add to Canberra's woes
Raiders prop Brett White will sit out Sunday's clash with the Titans after suffering a bicep injury during the week. Photo: Colleen Petch
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THE Canberra Raiders have lost forwards Joel Thompson and Brett White to injury before Sunday's match against the Gold Coast Titans, but have vowed to ''get back in the papers for the right reasons'' after their tumultuous week.
Having already sacked fullback Josh Dugan and suspended centre Blake Ferguson, the Raiders received another double blow on Saturday when Thompson and White failed fitness tests.
Thompson was ruled out with a shoulder joint injury, while White's comeback game from knee surgery has been delayed at least another week because of a biceps problem.
Joel Edwards will replace Thompson in the starting team, while one player will be omitted from a five-man bench comprising Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Matt McIlwrick, Mark Nicholls, Jake Foster and Joe Picker.
Amid the upheaval this week, five-eighth Josh McCrone said the Raiders had no excuses and needed to prove last week's dismal effort against the Panthers was an aberration.
''If blokes are worrying about that [Dugan being sacked], they're worrying about the wrong thing,'' McCrone said.
''It's been put to bed already and we've tried to concentrate on [this game].
''We're a bit disappointed with last week's effort, so we're looking at this week as a massive opportunity to show our pre-season has been a good one. It's a chance for us to get back in the papers for the right reasons.''
Raiders coach David Furner admitted getting the two competition points would be the tonic to what has been a difficult week, adding the struggles of last year would serve as a positive.
Furner's position was in question when the Raiders were languishing at the bottom of the ladder, before storming home with a sensational run to make the finals.
''It has been a little bit [distracting], but I've tried to stay focused and so have the team,'' Furner said.
''They learnt a lot about themselves from the adversity last year.''
Reece Robinson will take on Dugan's No.1 jersey, having made the most of his chance when Dugan was injured last year.
His ability to chime into attacking raids and bring his outside men into the game proved a vital spark to the Raiders' end-of-season surge.
Robinson missed last week's loss with a back injury, but showed when he played at fullback in the trial win over the Bulldogs last month he hasn't lost his touch in the custodian role.
''He's an awesome player, you saw what he did last year at fullback,'' McCrone said.
''I don't think we lose too much with him there. He was pretty disappointed he couldn't play last week, so he'll be really good for us.''
The Raiders are wary of a Titans side which looked impressive in pushing the Cronulla Sharks last week before going down 12-10.
New signing Dave Taylor was injected off the bench, but the Maroons monster is likely to be elevated into the starting side for the first time for his new club.
That will present the Raiders with even more headaches as centre Jarrod Croker faces a torrid test stopping Jamal Idris.
''Crokes was pretty solid on him last year and he'll have to be again,'' Furner said.
''I spoke to him yesterday about it. They're big all over the park so we're going to have to be nice and aggressive.''