CANBERRA Raiders prop David Shillington is in doubt for the start of the NRL season after suffering a rib cartilage injury in Saturday's 34-14 trial loss to Newcastle in Tamworth.
The representative forward was forced from the field midway through the second half in a blow to Canberra's preparations for its round one clash with North Queensland in Townsville.
Shillington is expected to have scans on Monday and missed matches last year with a similar issue.
It is the only injury the Raiders have suffered in a pre-season coach Ricky Stuart was ''extremely happy'' with despite the defeat.
Canberra played a far stronger side in the first half as Stuart looks to settle on his team to play the Cowboys. Jack Wighton played strongly in the opening 40 minutes at five-eighth before resting in the second half as the Raiders fielded a team dominated by youngsters and NSW Cup regulars.
In what could be a sign of Stuart's intentions for the hooker role for round one, Glen Buttriss played the first half while Josh McCrone played the second half.
Halfback Mitch Cornish played the entire 80 minutes after Stuart opted to rest key playmaker Terry Campese.
Canberra trailed 12-10 at half-time, but a more experienced Newcastle line-up the Knights dominated after the break.
''Shillo's got a bit of a rib cartilage problem, there's a chance he might not be right [for round one],'' Stuart said.
Stuart said he's virtually settled on the make-up of his round one side, but was keeping his cards close to his chest.
''In my mind I'm pretty settled in what we're going to have going forward,'' he said.
''Our first half was very solid, and the second half was a good education for our young guys in what it's like to play against a first grade standard.
''A little bit of our attack execution is still down, but defensively I thought we were pretty strong in the first half.''
Newcastle forward Zane Tetevano suffered a hand injury and forward Jeremy Smith was taken off as a precaution with a bump on his knee.
AT A GLANCE
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 34 (James McManus, Akuila Uate, BJ Leilua, Chad Redman, Jake Mamo, Kurt Gidley tries; Michael Dobson 3 Tyrone Roberts 2 goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 14 (Edrick Lee, Jarrod Croker, Sami Sauiluma tries; Croker goal)at Scully Park, Tamworth on Saturday night.