Raiders coach Ricky Stuart says it wasn't his club that imposed a deadline on young star Anthony Milford to decide between Canberra and Brisbane next year.

Stuart has also defended his decision to send representative forwards Josh Papalii and David Shillington back to the bench as the Raiders try and salvage their season.

In the aftermath of a 54-18 hiding at the hands of the Manly Sea Eagles a fortnight ago, Papalii and Shillington have been left out of the starting side for Saturday's crucial round nine clash with the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland.

Milford will retain the No.1 jersey as the long-running saga of whether he honours his contract for next season or reneges on the deal to remain in Canberra comes to a conclusion.

While Milford has up until round 13 to change his mind, it was reported that either the Broncos or Raiders wanted an answer by the end of next week so they could begin planning for 2015.

However, Stuart said he didn't know anything about the deadline and that all of his focus was on Saturday's match against the Warriors.

"It didn't come from the Raiders,'' Stuart said.

"All I'm worrying about is trying to get a win against [the Warriors]. This game is at the forefront of my mind.

"(Milford) trained well this morning, as did 16 others. Everyone's in a good frame of mind.''

Milford has signed on for the next two years with the Broncos, but he is able to change his mind up until round 13 because the NRL doesn't register contracts for the following season until then.

It's a loophole the Raiders benefited from when Papalii last year agreed to join Parramatta  and then had a change of heart and extended his stay in Canberra.

The Raiders have cleared room in their salary cap to present a lucrative $1 million a season offer to Milford, who was the club's player of the year in his rookie season last year.

They also this year relocated his Brisbane-based family to Canberra so he could concentrate on his football.

Milford wanted to move back to Brisbane so he could be closer to his sick father Halo.

The Raiders are desperate to hang on to the 19-year-old Samoa and Queensland under-20s representative, who has been in the club's development system since he was aged 13.

The immediate priority, though, is climbing up the NRL ladder.

The Raiders are languishing in 14th (3-5) place and have been rated as $101 to win the premiership, the longest odds of any team in the competition.

Relegating Papalii and Shillington to the bench was the biggest shock.

After losing his place in the Australian team, Papalii volunteered to play in the Queensland Cup last week while the Raiders had the weekend off for the representative bye to build his match fitness.

Shillington made 83 metres in 10 carries in just 30 minutes against Manly, while his replacement in the starting side, Dane Tilse, made 49 metres in eight runs in an hour.

Stuart said both players understood the decision and expected them to take it the right way.

"We are in the position where I need people to perform week in and week out,'' Stuart said.

"It makes it a strong bench providing everyone plays well.

"They're professionals, they know the situation.

"It's a matter of doing their bit for the team, as we all do.''

Country debutant Paul Vaughan replaces Papalii in the second row, while forward Kyle O'Donnell will make his second NRL appearance on the bench and first since an impressive debut in round five against the Penrith Panthers.

O'Donnell replaces big bopper Shannon Boyd, who will miss a week due to a sternum injury.