Revitalised Canberra Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer has reclaimed the club's No. 7 jersey with the toughest period of his career firmly in the rear-view mirror.
Sezer's scintillating return to form will give Raiders coach Ricky Stuart an ongoing selection headache after Sam Williams was bumped onto the extended bench for a clash with the Cronulla Sharks at Canberra Stadium on Thursday.
An extended stint in reserve grade has helped Sezer to rediscover "what the game is about", with the 27-year-old determined to shelve the stress of steering the ship in favour of eyes up football.
Sezer orchestrated a shutout in his return to halfback for Canberra last week - an effort Raiders flyer Nick Cotric hopes they can replicate in a top eight showdown.
"It's great [to have that depth at halfback], they're both great players. 'Seze' had a blinder of a game over the weekend," Cotric said.
"He's got a little stocky body, he runs hard, tackles hard, he's a good player.
"So is Sammy, Sammy's kicking game is good. It's good to have two guys in the team like that.
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"We have to back up this week against Cronulla. Cronulla have been playing well so it's going to be a tough one. It's going to be a big test for the boys."
Stuart's Cronulla counterpart John Morris may still have a selection headache to deal with this week with New Zealand playmaker Shaun Johnson returning on an extended bench.
Johnson has not played since injuring his hamstring in round seven but youngster Kyle Flanagan has flourished in his absence to lead Cronulla to three wins in their past four games to hold his spot at five-eighth.
Sezer will take the reins of an unchanged Raiders outfit desperate to turn Canberra Stadium into a fortress having dropped their past two games at home.
The venue holds no demons for the visiting Sharks - Cronulla have won six games on the trot in Canberra and 12 of their past 15 in the capital.
But now Cronulla will meet a resurgent Raiders outfit which has claimed back-to-back wins on the road - albeit one carrying three players set to play their third game in eight days.
Cotric, Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii will suit up for the Raiders again to cap off a mammoth stretch which began with last Wednesday's State of Origin showdown.
Wighton and Cotric have plenty to play for with uncertainty hovering over a handful of places in the NSW squad, and the Sharks clash is their final audition to book their spots in Brad Fittler's best 17 for game two.
But Raiders winger Jordan Rapana says Papalii's assignment may be the toughest this week as the Canberra pack prepare to meet a Cronulla side boasting one of the best forward contingents in the game.
"They're on fire too, they will have a lot of confidence. They're going to be tough," Rapana said.
"It's going to be a massive game for our forward pack and our bench to really match them, their forward pack is one of the best in the comp.
"It'll be a big job for our forwards this week, so we're really looking forward to the challenge.
"We're all pretty close around there on the table, but we don't want to think too far ahead.
"We just have to go out there, make sure we get those two points before the bye, because it will start to divide those teams that are close together."
NRL ROUND 14
Thursday: Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks at Canberra Stadium, 7:50pm.
Raiders squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Nick Cotric, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. John Bateman, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Joe Tapine. Interchange: 14. Tom Starling, 15. Emre Guler, 16. Sia Soliola, 17. Ryan Sutton, 18. Sam Williams, 19. Royce Hunt, 20. Michael Oldfield, 21. Sebastian Kris
Sharks squad: 1. Matt Moylan, 2. Sosaia Feki, 3.3 Bronson Xerri, 4. Josh Morris, 5. Josh Dugan, 6. Kyle Flanagan, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Blayke Brailey, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Briton Nikora, 12. Kurt Capewell, 13. Paul Gallen. Interchange: 14. Wade Graham, 15. Jayson Bukuya, 16. Jack Williams, 17. Braden Hamlin-Uele, 18. Aaron Gray, 19. Scott Sorensen, 20. Billy Magoulias, 21. Shaun Johnson
Match officials: Ashley Klein and Peter Gough