Five new faces poised for Canberra Raiders debut

Rick Horsburgh may well have dropped the phone when his son Corey rang to talk footy and casually revealed he is one of five new faces poised to make a Canberra Raiders debut in their season opener.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has selected a host of club debutants as the Green Machine look to start their NRL campaign with a bang against the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday.

Corey Horsburgh is set to make his NRL debut this week. Photo: Raiders Media

Corey Horsburgh is set to make his NRL debut this week. Photo: Raiders Media

Unheralded forward Horsburgh has been named in the No. 17 jersey while New Zealand rugby sevens prodigy Bailey Simonsson will make his NRL debut on the wing to fill the void left by Jordan Rapana.

English imports John Bateman (lock) and Ryan Sutton (interchange) have been named to steel a new-look Raiders forward pack while Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad will make his club debut at fullback following Jack Wighton's shift to five-eighth.

Redheaded forward Horsburgh expected to be suiting up in reserve grade to start the season before Stuart told him his lifelong dream is about to be realised following impressive trial performances.

It might be a good thing the 21-year-old is making his debut on the Gold Coast - his family live just over an hour away from the glitter strip, and few will be louder in the crowd than his father Rick.

"I think my dad would be more excited than me, he loves it that much. It will be really special for my family," Horsburgh said.

"He played a bit of footy growing up, he says he went alright but I never got to watch him. I ring my dad probably once a week and footy is all he wants to talk about. He loves it.

"It’s been my dream forever, I’m living it at the moment but I’d like to take that next step. This year, definitely, I took it in and thought ‘I’m close here, I’ve just got to stick at it and I’ll get there'."

What is Horsburgh expecting when Stuart turns around and gives him the nod on Sunday night?

Bailey Simonsson will make his NRL debut on the wing. Photo: Raiders Media

Bailey Simonsson will make his NRL debut on the wing. Photo: Raiders Media

"I couldn’t tell you, it would probably be overwhelming. It would be a pretty special feeling," Horsburgh said.

Raiders winger Nick Cotric knows the feeling all too well - the nerves, the excitement, the thrill of finally running onto the park alongside the likes of Jarrod Croker, Josh Hodgson and Josh Papalii.

Cotric has already surged onto Brad Fittler's State of Origin radar having enjoyed a stellar start to his NRL career, scoring 28 tries in 48 games on Canberra's edge.

The secret to his success? Just backing himself.

"I can’t believe how quick it’s gone, I still pinch myself sometimes. It’s already my third season, I feel like I’m going to debut on the weekend, I can’t believe it," Cotric said.

"[My message to the debutants is to] keep working hard, do the best you can. Don’t get too nervous, it doesn’t matter if you make one little mistake, just don’t get rattled from it. Keep working hard, play your game and you’ll be fine.

"The biggest thing for me was just confidence. In the first couple of rounds you get your confidence, once you get confidence it makes it a bit easier from there."

NRL ROUND ONE

Sunday: Gold Coast Titans v Canberra Raiders at Gold Coast, 6.10pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports.

Raiders squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Bailey Simonsson, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (C), 10. Sia Soliola, 11. Joe Tapine, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. John Bateman. Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Ryan Sutton, 16. Dunamis Lui, 17. Corey Horsburgh. Extended bench: 18. Sam Williams, 19. Jack Murchie, 20. Luke Bateman, 21. JJ Collins.

This story Five new faces poised for Canberra Raiders debut first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.