NRL: Charlie Gubb to make his Canberra Raiders debut against Newcastle Knights

NRL: Charlie Gubb to make his Canberra Raiders debut against Newcastle Knights

Charlie Gubb is set to make his Canberra Raiders debut as Ricky Stuart looks to plug a hole left by another Kiwi wrecking ball.

Raiders coach Stuart has called Gubb into his 17-man squad to face an unchanged Newcastle Knights side at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.

Canberra Raiders recruit Charlie Gubb. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Canberra Raiders recruit Charlie Gubb. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Joe Tapine has been sidelined with a dislocated thumb, with English international Elliott Whitehead returning to the back-row and Luke Bateman named at lock.

Stuart has named Sia Soliola to start at prop with Junior Paulo set to come on as an impact player, while Blake Austin will start at five-eighth with Aidan Sezer to deputise at hooker.

Tapine was one of Canberra's best in a shattering close loss against the Gold Coast Titans but Soliola believes there won't be a dip in quality in the 23-year-old's absence.


The Raiders veteran is adamant former New Zealand Warrior Gubb can make a difference as Canberra look to bury the demons of round one.

"He brings a lot of energy. That's one of the things he's admired for by a lot of the players and especially a lot of the fans back home in New Zealand," Soliola said.

"It's just his efforts and his energy that he brings, whether he'll be starting or he's off the bench, that's what he's done here. He's a character, he's definitely one of the highlights of the day when you come into training.

"If you get to have a chat with Charlie, just sit and relax with him because he's a pretty interesting guy."

Young gun Jack Murchie has been called in to fill a gap on the extended bench, named alongside Craig Garvey, Michael Oldfield and Royce Hunt.

Soliola is confident every man in Canberra's squad can meet the standards set by Stuart as the Raiders pay tribute to the late Kato Ottio on game day.

"It's good that we have the calibre of players like Junior, Bato, and it's nice to see Dunamis coming back and making a really good return from injury," Soliola said.

"It's actually quite nice that we've got someone like Elliott Whitehead who started his career here at the back-row and he plays for England as well.

"We know our expectations and we know how we value our expectations around the joint, not only on the football field but off the football field as well. We know everyone can meet those standards as well.

"Taps is a quality player but hopefully it's not too bad."

The Knights boast a new-look forward pack compared to the one that dominated the Green Machine in Newcastle last season, with a host of experience joining coach Nathan Brown's ranks.

Both sides are coming off thrillers to open the season - but while the Raiders endured a nightmare against the Gold Coast Titans, the Knights kicked off their campaign with a dream golden point win.

Soliola says "frustrating is probably a nice way to put it after our first game" which was capped off with a video review session that went almost 40 minutes over time on Tuesday.

He says the Raiders have no doubts about their ability to close out close games and that theory could be tested on Sunday - Soliola is expecting a recent trend of nail-biters to continue against the Knights.

"They just look like a team, you can see the excitement and the energy they have - not just on the football field but off the football field with all the support that's been around them," Soliola said.

"The new guys that have come into their joint, they've injected themselves really well over the first week. It's going to be a tough ask for us but we're all looking forward to that challenge."


Sunday: Round two - Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights at Canberra Stadium, 6.30pm. TV: Live on Fox League.


Canberra Raiders squad: 1. Jack Wighton, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Sam Williams, 8. Sia Soliola, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Josh Papalii, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Luke Bateman. Interchange from: 14. Aidan Sezer, 15. Junior Paulo, 16. Dunamis Lui, 17. Charlie Gubb, 18. Craig Garvey, 19. Michael Oldfield, 20. Royce Hunt, 21. Jack Murchie

Newcastle Knights squad: 1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 3. Sione Mata'utia, 4. Tautau Moga, 5. Nathan Ross, 6. Connor Watson, 7. Mitchell Pearce (c), 8. Herman Ese'ese, 9. Slade Griffin, 10. Jacob Lillyman, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Aidan Guerra, 13. Mitchell Barnett. Interchange from: 14. Brock Lamb, 15. Chris Heighington, 16. Jamie Buhrer (c), 17. Daniel Saifiti, 18. Ken Sio, 19. Jacob Saifiti, 20. Daniel Levi, 21. Luke Yates

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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