The Canberra Raiders will test another rookie against one of the best teams in the competition as the club braces for what could be their biggest regular-season crowd in a decade.
The Raiders have named 20-year-old Sebastian Kris on their extended interchange list, adding the Tuggeranong junior as extra back-line cover for the injured Jordan Rapana.
Kris was promoted to the Raiders' top squad this year after a stint in the junior program and could get his opportunity when the Raiders play the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.
Raiders officials are hoping to attract a crowd of close to 20,000 for the showdown against the Rabbitohs, with the resurgent Green Machine determined to beat one of the top teams to enhance their premiership credentials.
Fans are voting with their feet and the club could have its biggest non-finals attendance since 2010 if 20,000 or more fans pack the stands as the Raiders set about about equaling their best start to a season since 2003.
Rapana has been ruled out for at least four weeks after scans confirmed he damaged the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee. Young gun Bailey Simonsson will replace him on the wing, while Kris, a 99 kilogram centre, has been named on the bench for his potential debut.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has been forced to shuffle his side again in Rapana's absence, while injuries to Joey Leilua (neck) and John Bateman (eye socket) have also caused concerns.
But the Raiders have still won six of their first nine games and showed last week they were ready to match the top teams when they fell just short of a remarkable comeback against the Sydney Roosters.
A slow start cost the Raiders a chance of victory against the Roosters and Sia Solioa said the players wouldn't make the same mistake against the Rabbitohs.
"If we want to compete, we have to start better against the Rabbitohs than we did last week," Soliola said.
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"We've got a proud bunch [of players]. We've got guys with great character and that showed with what we did in the back end of the half. But this day and age, you can't give any squad that sort of lead and try to crawl back. The game is hard enough as it is.
"We know we can do it, it's just a matter of being consistent."
The Raiders are averaging crowds of almost 14,500 per home game this year, but haven't had more than 18,000 to a regular season game since the end of 2016.
They sit fourth on the ladder and have shown massive signs of improvement this year, particularly their renewed defensive resolve.
The Green Machine has the second best defensive record in the competition after nine rounds and have only conceded more points, but back to back clashes against the Roosters and the Rabbitohs will test them against the competition's two best attacking sides.
"You've got to face them some time in the year ... it's going to be a good challenge for us. It was a good eye-opener against the Roosters [last] weekend so we'll be ready this weekend," said Jack Wighton.
NRL ROUND 10
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v South Sydney Rabbitohs at Canberra Stadium, 7.30pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker, 4. Nick Cotric, 5. Michael Oldfield, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Sam Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (c), 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. Hudson Young, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Ryan Sutton. Interchange from: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Sebastian Kris, 16. Sia Soliola, 17. Corey Horsburgh, 18. Aidan Sezer, 19. Emre Guler, 20. Royce Hunt, 21. Jack Murchie.