Canberra Raiders have first Charnze to stake claim for round one
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Canberra Raiders have first Charnze to stake claim for round one

It's a Canberra Raiders audition with round-one spots on the line, but the Green Machine might need to wear name tags.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart named a 24-man squad to face what could be a strong Parramatta side at St Marys on Friday night.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad will play on the wing and at fullback in the trial against the Eels.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad will play on the wing and at fullback in the trial against the Eels.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

The trial is shaping as exactly that - for several spots up for grabs in their second trial against the Canterbury Bulldogs at Bega on Saturday week.

Stuart wants to play the Bulldogs with as close as possible to his first-round team to face the Gold Coast Titans.

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There's several spots up for grabs, with Jack Wighton's shift to five-eighth opening up fullback, while Jordan Rapana's shoulder reconstruction has opened up the right wing.

There's a few bench-forward positions available as well.

New recruit Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and recently upgraded Bailey Simonsson will both get their first chance to stake a claim for the wing and fullback jerseys.

Several Raiders regulars including Sam Williams, Luke Bateman, Dunamis Lui and Siliva Havili will have a run.

It will also be English prop Ryan Sutton's first hit-out for Canberra, while fellow young forwards Emre Guler, Corey Horsburgh and Jack Murchie also get a chance with bench spots on the line for Bega.

"It's more about giving some younger players an opportunity to play against first-graders, which I do every year," Stuart said.

"It's good for our youth in seeing what it's like playing against NRL players.

"There's guys in there that will be playing towards being chosen for the trial the week after. They're playing to get a potential start for the Dogs trial."

It's been a whirlwind week for Nicoll-Klokstad, who only arrived in Canberra last Friday and a week later will be running out in lime green for the first time.

He wants to nail down the No.1 jersey, having played all seven of his NRL games either on a wing or at centre.

But he's got competition there from Simonsson and Michael Oldfield.

Nicoll-Klokstad will spend time on the wing and at fullback against the Eels as he looks to play his way into the mix to face the Bulldogs.

Rather than focusing on round one, he said he was only worried about Parramatta and that would in turn give him his best shot of the facing the Bulldogs - and then the Titans.

Given he hasn't had much time to settle in, Nicoll-Klokstad said Stuart had told him just to focus on the basics - like organising the defensive line into how many players are split either side of the ruck.

"He pretty much just wants me to keep it simple, do my job to the best of my ability," Nicoll-Klokstad said.

"They've had a real defensive focus this pre-season so just make sure I'm really sharp on my splits and making my tackles and those little things.

"That's all he's pretty much said to me so [Friday] night just look to do my job and just focus on all the little things."

The biggest problem Nicoll-Klokstad's had was remembering all his new teammates names.

He joked calling everyone "bro" doesn't cut it in the heat of battle.

"It's pretty hard, just with the names, that's the only barrier I guess. The talk around the splits and everything else is pretty much the same," he said.

"It's just, 'Yeah bro go that way'. So it's trying to get eyes on with them, but they've been really helpful.

"Their understanding when I'm sort of telling them to go one way but I wanted the other guy to go the other way.

"They've been really understanding and helpful so I'm pretty lucky to have these boys supporting me like that."

CANBERRA RAIDERS UPCOMING GAMES

Pre-season trials: Canberra Raiders v Parramatta Eels at St Marys, Friday 7pm; Raiders v Canterbury Bulldogs at Bega, February 23 5pm.

Round 1: Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans at the Gold Coast, March 17 6.10pm.

Raiders squad: Brad Abbey, Luke Bateman, JJ Collins, Emre Guler, Siliva Havili, Corey Horsburgh, Royce Hunt, Dan Keir, Seb Kris, Dunamis Lui, Mathew Lyons, Dean Matterson, Jack Murchie, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Andre Niko, Reuben Porter, Tony Satini, Bailey Simonsson, Harley Smith-Shields, Tom Starling, Matt Timoko, Ryan Sutton, Sam Williams, Hudson Young.

Eels squad: Daniel Alvaro, Dylan Brown, Rhys Davies, Haze Dunster, David Gower, Clint Gutherson, Josh Hoffman, George Jennings, Michael Jennings, Oregon Kaufusi, Shaun Lane, Reed Mahoney, Tim Mannah, Tepai Moeroa, Mitch Moses, Marata Niukore, Ethan Parry, Junior Paulo, Jaeman Salmon, Peni Terepo, Stefano Utoikamanu.

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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