Terry Campese is demanding a better effort from the Raiders this weekend. Photo: Getty Images
Canberra Raiders star Josh Papalii's quest to retain his Queensland Origin jumper got tougher after he was dropped to the bench for Saturday's clash with New Zealand Warriors at Eden Park.
While the back rower's form has been down since his injury return, he certainly isn't the only Raider under pressure. A number of players are aware their first grade spots are on the line after their awful 54-18 loss at Manly.
Papalii and fellow Maroons representative David Shillington lost their starting roles after the Brookvale defeat, where Canberra trailed 42-4 at half-time.
Josh Papalii has been dumped from this week's match against New Zealand. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Country Origin prop Paul Vaughan moves into the back row in place of Papalii. Dane Tilse replaces Shillington in the starting front row and Kyle O'Donnell comes on to the bench.
Rookie front-rower Shannon Boyd (sternum) wasn't available for selection but is likely to be fit to return next week.
The benching of Canberra's two highest profile forwards is a clear statement from coach Ricky Stuart he is demanding an immediate reaction from his team.
Papalii played for Canberra's Queensland Cup affiliate Souths Logan last weekend to get more match fitness in the knowledge his Queensland Origin place is in the balance.
The back rower's pre-season was disrupted by featuring in Australia's World Cup campaign, and he has battled for form and conditioning after missing three weeks with an ankle injury earlier this year.
He admitted this week he needs to do more to win over Maroons coach Mal Meninga, having made his Origin debut in the final two games last year.
Raiders skipper Terry Campese believes New Zealand interim coach Andrew McFadden's intimate knowledge of their players only adds to the challenge.
Campese said the squad always knew McFadden was destined to be a first grade coach and praised his tactical nous and ability to break down opponents when at Canberra.
McFadden took over as Warriors head coach when Matt Elliott was sacked just a month into the season, and registered his first win with a 16-10 upset in Melbourne on Anzac Day.
The Raiders players remain close with McFadden and Campese hopes he'll have many more victories to savour – just not this week.
"We always knew he was going to be a first grade coach and now he's got his time, we know what a leader he is,'' Campese said.
"They've just got [former Raiders player] Adam Mogg on board [as assistant], they know a fair few of our players which is going to make it harder.
"Cappy [McFadden] knows most of the players inside out, he'll know where to target us and hopefully we'll be up for the challenge.''
Campese also expects former half McFadden to be keen to make a statement against his old club, for which he also played 76 games.
"It's going to be a game he wants to win, coaching against a team he played for and coached,'' Campese said.
"He just knows the game, the knowledge he has is great and the way he delivers it.
"There's no reason I can see why he won't be successful as a first grade coach.''
Campese also expects the Warriors players who featured in New Zealand's stirring display against Australia on Friday to return to club level brimming with confidence.
"You always see players who come back from their state or country and grow another leg the next week,'' he said.
"The way they played in that first half against Australia just makes it tougher for us, and we have to be switched on for it.''
Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell kept his place, despite being under investigation by the NRL's integrity unit after he was embroiled in a sex tape scandal on Monday.
New Zealand Warriors v Canberra Raiders at Eden Park, Auckland, 3pm (AEST)
TV: Live on Fox Sports