Michael Oldfield the 'perfect man' for Raiders' injury crisis

No Jordan Rapana, Joey Leilua or John Bateman. Who you gonna call? Michael Oldfield.

The Canberra Raiders say the journeyman back is the perfect man to provide stability on their injury-hit right side as they target the biggest scalp of their season so far.

Michael Oldfield will slot on to the Raiders' right wing this week. Picture: Karleen Minney

Michael Oldfield will slot on to the Raiders' right wing this week. Picture: Karleen Minney

Oldfield has been shifted to the right wing to replace Rapana (knee) after filling in at right centre for Leilua (neck) last week.

The new combination of Oldfield, Nick Cotric and Elliott Whitehead will be targeted by the dangerous South Sydney Rabbitohs attack when the teams clash at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.

But Oldfield's teammates say his experience, calmness under pressure and skill will ensure injuries are just a blip on the radar of the top-four battle.

Josh Hodgson, Jarrod Croker and Sia Soliola described Oldfield as "the ultimate professional", which was why they weren't surprised he was added to the club's leadership group this year despite not being in their regular starting side.

"To people that don't know Oldie I guess it might have been a surprise that he was in the leadership group because he's not there starting every week," Hodgson said.

MORE CANBERRA SPORT

"He's been a bit of a journeyman, so it's nice to see him find a home and he's a person who lives and breathes professionalism.

"He would do anything for his mates. He goes above and beyond when anyone needs helps, he's a team first player and a great bloke player. When you speak about blokes who are underrated, he's one of the most underrated blokes I've ever come across.

"We're lucky to have him here, because he's a starting 17 player every week anywhere else."

The Raiders found out how professional Oldfield was two weeks ago when Ricky Stuart was banging on his hotel door in Wagga on the morning of the game against Penrith.

Oldfield was in the toilet. When he answered the door, he answered the Raiders game-day SOS after Leilua suffered a neck injury which has ended his season.

Michael Oldfield is part of the Raiders' 'Club 82' leadership group. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Michael Oldfield is part of the Raiders' 'Club 82' leadership group. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

But, Croker says, his job of helping doesn't stop at filling gaps on the field or scoring tries.

"Everyone will tell you he's the ultimate professional. The quiet achiever, the one everyone loves having around," Croker said.

"He does a lot of work off the field. He helped Josh Papalii a lot with dieting and those things over the past 18 months. He didn't hesitate once. That's the sort of guy Oldie is, that's why he's in the leadership group.

"He'll admit he probably didn't expect to be in there, either. But even when he's not playing or he's injured, he's still a leader. He's done it all. He's calm and collected, the perfect man to be outside Nick on that right edge there."

Oldfield started his career at Manly, then joined the Roosters, moved to the Catalans Dragons, came back to South Sydney and had a stint with Penrith before joining Canberra in 2017.

He's scored two tries in two games this year and 27 tries in his 41 NRL games since 2010.

Soliola adds: "He's very level-headed. One of the big reasons he's in the squad is a lot of the guys see him as the ultimate professional. You just have to look at him physically to know that.

"He's so encouraging, very professional, very mature. That helps in the squad to have someone like him you can call on, and I've got nothing but praise for him.

"Leadership comes in different sizes and forms. Oldie is experienced, well traveled and has a lot of knowledge. Leadership doesn't mean everyone is playing, it means catering to everyone and everything happening in the squad."

The Raiders will need to lean on all of Oldfield's experience when they play the high-flying Souths, who have lost just one of nine games so far this season. The Raiders have won six of their nine games and will be keen to beat a top-four rival for the first time.

State of Origin contender? Nick Cotric gets his chance this week. Picture: NRL Imagery

State of Origin contender? Nick Cotric gets his chance this week. Picture: NRL Imagery

"They came off a tough loss (to the Roosters) last week and they'll be keen to get back on track again. They're a quality football team," said Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett.

Injuries have forced Stuart into making changes. Cotric moves from the left wing to right centre, while Bailey Simonsson moves from the right wing to fill Cotric's spot on the left.

Tuggeranong junior Sebastian Kris is in contention to make his NRL debut from the bench after the 20-year-old was added to the Raiders side this week.

Cotric's move could pave the way for the try-scoring machine to force his way back into NSW State of Origin contention as a centre option for Brad Fittler.

"He's probably played more centre, fullback, a little bit of five-eighth as a junior than wing," Stuart said of Cotric.

"When I spoke to him about it, I asked him the question if he was interested first, before I moved him there. He jumped at it, he was very excited, and you could just see the excitement in his face.

"He is up for the challenge. It's all going to be good for him. A change of position and change of roles will give him a little bit more responsibility at right centre as well."

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.

Rabbitohs: 1. Corey Allan, 2. Mawene Hiroti, 3. Kyle Turner, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Campbell Graham, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Adam Reynolds, 8. George Burgess, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Thomas Burgess, 11. John Sutton, 12. Sam Burgess (c), 13. Cameron Murray. Interchange from: 14. Junior Tatola, 15. Mark Nicholls , 16. Ethan Lowe, 17. Liam Knight, 18. Jacob Gagan, 19. Bayley Sironen, 20. Dean Britt, 21. Tom Amone.