Waddell back, Croker on notice
Raiders hooker Travis Waddell is set to be given a chance to resurrect his NRL career against the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale on Sunday, while centre Jarrod Croker is on notice to retain his spot in the Canberra side.
Raiders coach David Furner had signaled he would make changes to his squad following Sunday’s 44-22 loss to the Cronulla Sharks, but The Canberra Times understands Waddell may be the only notable change in the starting line-up to be named by Furner this afternoon.
Hooker Glen Buttriss is struggling with a knee injury and is likely to miss the Sea Eagles match, providing the opportunity for Waddell to be recalled.
Waddell was dropped from the Raiders’ bench prior to the Sharks match in favour of rookie Matt McIlwrick, but he is set to be given another chance at dummy-half because of the established combination he already has with the team. Veteran Shaun Berrigan may also be given time at hooker during the match as a back-up to Waddell.
Jack Wighton and Bronson Harrison are set to be added to Canberra’s extended bench, although both are still under injury clouds.
Wighton’s presence is of particular interest, the exciting teenager putting immense pressure on Jarrod Croker to maintain his place in the Raiders’ backline.
Croker is the NRL’s top point-scorer, but the Raiders are seriously considering the option of putting Wighton in the centres to try and fix Canberra’s left-side defence.
Wighton has played out of position on the wing in his first five NRL appearances this season, but his aggressive tackling and ability to defuse kicks has impressed coaching staff.
But Wighton still needs to convince Raiders medicos that he has completely recovered from a head-knock in training last week, knocked out cold on Thursday while attempting to tackle fullback Josh Dugan.
Harrison is still battling to shake-off an ankle injury he sustained against the Brisbane Broncos in Round seven.