Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart concerned about battling Brookvale surface

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has massive concerns over the Brookvale Oval surface ahead of their clash there against Manly on Sunday.

As revealed by The Canberra Times, there have been five knee injuries - including three torn anterior cruciate ligaments - alone in the past two games between the sides at the beleaguered ground.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has "massive" concerns about the Brookvale Oval surface. Photo: AAP Image/Rohan Thomson

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has "massive" concerns about the Brookvale Oval surface. Photo: AAP Image/Rohan Thomson

The NRL got an independent investigation into it earlier in the season and have passed it fit to play on, despite having a pre-season trial getting moved to another ground earlier this year.

The Green Machine lost Dunamis Lui (ACL) and Shannon Boyd (medial) to knee injuries at Brookvale in the past two seasons, while the Sea Eagles lost Curtis Sironen (ACL), Jorge Taufua (ACL) and Kelepi Tanginoa (medial) during the same games.

Manly star fullback Tom Trbojevic also hurt his ankle. It has Stuart worried about what might happen on Sunday.

"It's a real concern for me. I wasn't going to mention it or talk about it, but you've raised the point and it's a massive concern," he said on Wednesday.

"We've had some poor luck there before with an ACL to Dunamis Lui and Shannon Boyd did a medial. Yes it does [worry me]."

Stuart expected Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (knee) to play against the Sea Eagles after he hyperextended his knee in the win over the Brisbane Broncos.

Nicoll-Klokstad trained lightly with a heavily strapped knee on Wednesday.

Given the doubts surrounding Brookvale's surface, Stuart said he wouldn't risk the 23-year-old New Zealander unless he was fully fit.

He has options to cover fullback in his 21 - moving five-eighth Jack Wighton back there and bringing Aidan Sezer into the halves, bringing Bailey Simonsson in to either be the custodian or play on a wing to allow Nick Cotric or Jordan Rapana to shift there.

Stuart expects Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to play Manly. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Stuart expects Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to play Manly. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

"I won't play him at 90 per cent. I've got some good depth there in Bailey Simonsson, Michael Oldfield, so if Charnze wasn't right I wouldn't risk him," Stuart said.

"I think he will be [right]. He won't do much today, but we've got another session tomorrow and Saturday and the medical boys have all assured me that he'll be OK."

Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans is the key to the Sea Eagles.

He leads them for line breaks - tied on five with the injured Trbojevic (hamstring) - while he's fourth in the NRL for kick metres.

But Stuart said he was also one of the best in the business at getting repeat sets, having earned five forced drop outs this season.

Stuart felt Cherry-Evans had been unfairly maligned throughout his career, which had seen him struggle to get his foot in the Queensland State of Origin door.

Cherry-Evans is in the mix to retain the Queensland No.7 jersey and he's also been touted as the next Maroons captain.

Stuart knows exactly what Cherry-Evans offers, having watched him kick the match-winning field goal against him in 2017.

"He plays well every game against us. He's probably the best in the competition at getting repeat sets," Stuart said.

"I've always seen him as a wonderful player that's had to bide his time to play Origin football.

"He is the real heart and soul of the Manly team and I know why Bob Fulton fought so hard to keep him when he was making a decision to go to the Gold Coast.

"He's the backbone of their team and they ride on the back of Cherry-Evans and he's a real threat to our game."


Sunday: Canberra Raiders v Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval, 2pm.

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

Manly squad: 1. Brendan Elliot, 2. Jorge Taufua, 3. Moses Suli, 4. Brad Parker, 5. Reuben Garrick, 6. Kane Elgey, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c), 8. Toafofoa Sipley, 9. Apisai Koroisau, 10. Martin Taupau, 11. Joel Thompson, 12. Curtis Sironen, 13. Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: 14. Manase Fainu, 15. Jack Gosiewski, 16. Corey Waddell, 17. Morgan Boyle. Reserves: 18. Kelepi Tanginoa, 19. Sam Smith, 20. Lachlan Croker, 21. Taniela Paseka.