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Raiders resist Berrigan temptation

Date

Jon Tuxworth

The Raiders will resist the temptation to thrust Shaun Berrigan into starting hooker, despite his strong performance at dummy half off the bench in Sunday’s 18-12 loss to Manly at Brookvale.

Canberra looked far more dangerous when Berrigan was thrown in the action late in the first half, his experience and creativity causing Manly plenty of headaches around the ruck.

But the 34-year-old believes he may be best suited to a bench role, at least for the immediate future, until he gets some match fitness under his belt.

Berrigan has played at right centre in his first five games for the Raiders, and yesterday was his first game at hooker since round three for the Warriors last year.

‘‘It was a lot tougher in there, I only got 39 minutes out, but it was good to be in there and I really enjoyed it,’’ Berrigan said this morning.

‘‘I haven’t played there for over a year, so it’s definitely a different workload on your legs.

‘‘My legs definitely got a lot heavier in there, and the more time I spend there the better I’ll get.

‘‘I came on when they were a bit tired as well which always helps and we started to get some more ball too, I was happy with how I went.’’

Raiders assistant coach Andrew McFadden said they may be loathe to start Berrigan after his short passing and running game took advantage of fatigued Manly forwards yesterday.

‘‘He really gave us some spark off the bench and maybe at a certain point of the game when the opposition gets tired, maybe that’s the best time to inject him,’’ McFadden said this morning.

‘‘At the end of his stint he was pretty tanked, he’s been defending on the edge and it’s going to take some time for him to get his match fitness in the middle.’’

McFadden said starting Berrigan at hooker may become an option later in the season.

‘‘That’s something I know Furnsey [Raiders coach David Furner] will look at, that’ll just depend on whether his form’s good enough,’’ McFadden said.

‘‘I think Travis did a very good job, he’s a very strong defender and he gives us that starch at the start of the game.

‘‘That combination worked really well for us.’’

Regular starting hooker Glen Buttriss missed yesterday’s match with a knee injury, and is a chance to return to the side for Sunday’s crunch home clash against struggling Parramatta.

Berrigan’s move to the bench opened the door for youngster Jack Wighton to slot in at right centre.

The 19-year-old performed admirably, particularly in defence when tested early against noted Manly hard man Steve Matai.

‘‘He’s a tough kid and he’s a first grader, he will only get better,’’ McFadden said.

‘‘He’s certainly handling first grade very well and given his performance on the weekend, that’s certainly something we’ll stick with at the moment.

‘‘As long as he’s holding his form, he’ll be there.

Berrigan said the Raiders have received a timely injection of confidence from its strong effort against Manly, despite failing to secure the two points.

‘‘The boys really turned up in defence, we only let in 18 points which wasn’t good enough to win the game on the day but it was a much better showing,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m not too sure what my experience can bring to the boys. In these situations you have to work as a team to get out if it, and make sure you’re not trying to do it yourself.’’

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