Raiders' second-rower Harrison has a point to prove
Bronson Harrison returns to the Raiders bench today. Photo: Graham Tidy
HIGH-PRICED Parramatta recruit Chris Sandow isn't the only player with a huge point to prove today, with Canberra forward Bronson Harrison desperate to prove he deserves a first grade spot.
Harrison was named to return from an ankle injury against Manly last week after missing the previous match against Cronulla, but was left out in favour of Joe Picker.
The New Zealand international was named 18th man for today's crunch game against the Eels at Canberra Stadium, but will take Sam Mataora's place on the interchange bench.
Since emerging as one of the game's best second rowers in 2010 Harrison has struggled to recapture that form since, with coach David Furner opting for Joel Thompson and Josh Papalii in his starting line-up.
Canberra skipper David Shillington has warned his side to brace for an early Parramatta ambush after its players were forced to face its angry fan base during the week.
The entire Eels squad fronted Tuesday's annual general meeting, where they were grilled by their frustrated members and supporters.
Shillington believes that would have dented Parramatta's pride, and admitted the Raiders need to be ready for an immediate Eels backlash.
''They would have seen a lot of passion from the fans that turned up wanting to express their feelings about their season, and I reckon that'd be a driving factor for them this weekend,'' Shillington said.
''It was really noble of the Parramatta players to do that and apparently it was their decision too, we'll have to be ready for anything this week.
''I think it definitely would have sparked some passion in them.''
Parramatta is anchored to the bottom of the ladder with just one win, and the Raiders aren't travelling much better with three wins from nine games.
The 28-year-old said the Raiders playing group wouldn't rule out fronting a board meeting itself should the members demand it.
''If we had the majority of members asking for it, it could be something to accommodate because we wouldn't be anywhere without our members,'' Shillington said.
''It won't make us train any harder because we're already putting in the hard yards and Furnsey [coach David Furner] spends day and night here, but I think it's respectful to the members to do something like that.''
Shillington has told the players to forget Parramatta's inept last 50 minutes against the Bulldogs last week, where they gave up 42 unanswered points to lose 46-12.
He believes the Bulldogs were guilty of underestimating Parramatta in the opening half hour, where the Eels built a 12-4 lead.
''The first thing I said to them was they were all over the Bulldogs for most of the first half,'' Shillington said.
''The Dogs made the mistake of trying to overplay at the start of the games, and Parra's line speed rattled them into a lot of errors.
''I don't think the Dogs showed them enough respect at the start of the game, and if we don't the same thing's going to happen to us.''
Shillington said the Raiders will have no excuses should they fail to beat Parramatta at home, aware the heat on the club will intensify further.
''We'll only beat ourselves,'' Shillington said.
''That's not any disrespect to how Parramatta are going, but the way we've lost this year has been through a bit of loose defence or lack of completions.''