Rugby League


Terry Campese set for switch as Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart weighs attack

Canberra back-rower Josh Papalii has hinted chief playmaker Terry Campese is likely to shift to the right edge as the Raiders prepare for a major overhaul of their attacking spine.

A long-term left-side half, Campese has spent time training on the right as coach Ricky Stuart decides whether to anoint Jack Wighton or Mitch Cornish his new halves partner. Both Wighton and Cornish are left-foot kickers, which shapes as a major factor in Campese's possible move. Papalii is the sole member remaining of a right edge which has torn teams apart in recent seasons.

Centre Blake Ferguson and winger Sandor Earl are no longer at the club while halfback Josh McCrone, who formed a lethal partnership with Papalii, has moved to hooker.

''I guess there'll be a whole new right side there, all the young fellas have to fill some big shoes with Fergie, Sandor and Macca [gone],'' Papalii said.

''I think we'll be sweet. I've played with Campo for a while now, he's a world quality player and the centres and wingers who come in will definitely do the job.''

Asked if he expected Campese to play inside him on the right, Papalii said: ''I'm not sure, but it looks like it though.


''Nothing's finalised yet, we're doing running more than anything at the moment and we probably won't know the team until round one.''

The 21-year-old is one of many Raiders stars to return for their first and final pre-season hit-out, against Newcastle at Tamworth on Saturday night.

Campese, David Shillington, Brett White, Anthony Milford and Edrick Lee are all tipped to be included in a squad of about 24.

Despite nursing a persistent knee injury in the early rounds last year, Papalii still played well enough to make his Queensland Origin debut and feature in Australia's World Cup final win against New Zealand.

''The knee's all good now, it's come up pretty good after [carrying it] for a couple of years,'' Papalii said. ''Having played with the top players, you have to come back and be prepared to perform day-in, day-out. It was tough getting there, but it's also tough trying to remain there.

''Just watching the likes of Cameron Smith, JT [Johnathan Thurston] and Billy Slater, how they approach training and injuries, I've come back better than how I was.''

Saturday's trial match between Canberra and Newcastle at Scully Park in Tamworth kicks off at 7.30pm.