Waddell back in but more changes are on the way
Assistant coach Justin Morgan has admitted the reprieve given to out-of-favour hooker Travis Waddell may not be the only change to the Canberra Raiders' line-up for Sunday's crucial clash at Manly.
Dumped for last Sunday's disappointing 44-22 home loss to Cronulla, Waddell was yesterday named in the No.9 jersey with starting hooker Glen Buttriss omitted with a minor knee injury.
However, coach David Furner has kept his options open by naming an extended six-man bench, and players have been warned they must train well this week or face the axe.
The Canberra Times understands Furner is considering:
■ giving right centre Shaun Berrigan plenty of playing time at hooker, either as a back-up to Waddell or as a starter; and
■ promoting youngster Jack Wighton from the bench to the starting line-up in place of centre Jarrod Croker, or to accommodate Berrigan's move to hooker.
The Raiders are confident 19-year-old Wighton, who missed the Sharks game after being knocked out cold at training last week, will be available for selection.
Wighton showed in his first five NRL appearances on the wing this season he is a dynamic defender capable of solving Canberra's left side defensive woes.
Croker and young halfback Sam Williams play alongside each other on the left flank, and that combination will certainly be targetted by the opposition.
Morgan denied Croker has been put on notice, but confirmed it's possible the starting line-up that runs onto Brookvale Oval could differ markedly from that named yesterday.
''He [Wighton] is there as cover for a number of backs, we may see one or two of those players on the extended bench come into the starting team,'' Morgan said.
''Obviously with Jack Wighton coming back after missing via injury last week, it gives us some more depth in the outside backs and the coaches are very keen to have plenty of options.
''There are a number of options, you mentioned Berrigan at hooker … there are a number of different combinations we could go with. They [the bench players] are all a chance, I'm not just saying for Croker, and a lot of that will be based on how they train this week.''
Furner said on Monday he would have ''a serious look'' at shifting Berrigan to hooker, who won the Clive Churchill medal in Brisbane's 2006 premiership playing dummy half.
''He's played there on a number of occasions, and I think over time it might be somewhere we look to put Shaun,'' Morgan said. ''He's certainly going to practice there more than he has in the past, and give us a few more options.''
Morgan said Waddell, off contract at the end of this season, deserved a chance to resurrect his career after performing strongly for the Mounties last week.
''The focus of the week will be our defence, and that's one of Travis's better attributes,'' Morgan said. ''Things can change quickly in a week, he put his head down, full credit to him for working hard.
'''He had a long chat with Davie about the things he needs to work on, and he put them into practice against Mounties.''
Morgan said the players have a burning desire to improve their desire and intensity in defence against the defending premier.
''We mapped out a plan for the areas we need to address, the most important one is attitude and the players are very keen to bring a good defensive attitude,'' he said.
''They don't need any extra motivation from the coaches, we all walked away from Sunday with out tails between our legs.
''To leak 40 points at home is not something to be proud of, but we've seen the determination from the players already this week to put it right.''
NRL: Round 9 - Canberra Raiders v Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval, 2pm. TV Time: Live on Fox Sports 2