The imminent return of Mr. Reliable and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has NRL legend Glenn Lazarus confident the Canberra Raiders can lift to another level as they emerge from an injury crisis.
Fullback Nicoll-Klokstad and centre Michael Oldfield could return in time for Saturday's clash with the ladder-leading Panthers at Penrith Stadium, with the duo to be assessed by Raiders staff this week.
But it's two steps forward and one step back for Canberra, with winger Semi Valemei ruled out for three to four weeks with a medial ligament injury.
The loss of Valemei could see Jordan Rapana return to the right wing as fullback Nicoll-Klokstad looks to make his comeback.
Their return to Ricky Stuart's 17 would be welcome news to the decimated Raiders, who have overcome a crippling injury crisis with three consecutive victories.
The last one came over the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday, with Lazarus labelling the 14-12 win a "brave" effort by the Green Machine.
The two-time premiership Raider believes Penrith is the in-form team of the competition but is confident Canberra can rise to the challenge this weekend.
"It's going to be a different game but I believe Canberra will rise to the occasion and if Charnze and Oldfield are back, it'll only increase their chances," Lazarus said.
"The fact is they've had to deal with a horror injury toll and not really skipped a beat. They had a really tough month and the only game they lost was against Melbourne, and again were tested in regards to their troops that night.
"I just feel the guys at the moment are doing the job and when the others come back it's going to make the team stronger.
"If the mindset they've got continues they're going to be really hard to beat. All credit to Ricky and the boys, they've really dug deep."
Penrith will be without star rookie Charlie Staines for the round-13 clash after the 19-year-old winger was ruled out for at least four weeks with a grade two hamstring injury.
It could see Malakai Watene-Zelezniak return to Ivan Cleary's 17, or Dean Whare if fit to play.
The Panthers have won their last seven NRL matches and been blessed with a breezy travel schedule.
They've only left Sydney once so far this season, while Canberra's trip to the foot of the mountains will be their ninth in 13 rounds.
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Lazarus has been impressed with how the Raiders have handled the heavy travel toll and says it won't be an excuse for them against the competition's leaders.
"I think it has the potential to be an issue if you let it and I just don't think Canberra has," Lazarus said.
"Canberra weren't on their game as much as everyone would have liked them to be against the Cowboys last week, a lot of people will say it was the travel.
"I don't think the Raiders will use it as an excuse, it never has been and never will be.
"I think it's a real benefit for Penrith having to only leave Sydney for one week. I'm sure [Canberra] will see this as a big challenge and one they'll rise to."
NRL ROUND 13
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers at Penrith Stadium, 7.35pm.