George Williams says "I'm no Jarrod Croker", but the hopes of almost 20,000 Canberra Raiders fans could rest on his right boot if things go down to the wire on Sunday.
That's just fine for the Raiders halfback as he prepares to assume the goal kicking duties in Croker's absence during the club's NRL season opener against the Wests Tigers at Canberra Stadium.
The 26-year-old ousted the likes of Jordan Rapana and Elliott Whitehead to be anointed the club's second choice sharpshooter under the watchful eye of Daryl Halligan, who retired in 2000 as the game's leading point scorer.
Croker boasts a career strike rate of 80.22 per cent, casting a big shadow for Williams - who has kicked 69 goals for Wigan, to fill against the Tigers.
"[I've practiced] quite a lot mate to be honest. Obviously we knew pretty early that Jarrod's shoulder was no good in the off-season and he was going to be battling to get to round one," Williams said.
"I've done quite a bit of work on that with Chook [Halligan] and Bish [Andrew Bishop], the kicking coaches, they've been really good with me.
"I did a little bit at Wigan so it's not brand new to me. It's been coming along pretty good. I'm no Jarrod Croker but yeah, I'll have a good go."
The Raiders enter their season opener against the Tigers as heavy favourites with club officials expecting a crowd between 16,000 and 20,000.
It marks the start of Williams' second year in the NRL and the English international says he is feeling far more confident this time around.
Come Sunday he forms part of an all-star spine with Dally M medallist Jack Wighton, England hooker Josh Hodgson and Maori All Stars fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
"It is different, I'm 12 months on. Last year, everything was new and I was just trying to find my feet," Williams said.
"I'm feeling more confident and I'm just excited for the weekend as well. It's a pretty long pre-season. You get sick of running laps.
"We're just happy to be playing this weekend, we've got a good test on Sunday and we're looking to start the season with a bang."
NRL ROUND ONE
Sunday: Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers at Canberra Stadium, 4.05pm. Broadcast: Live on Channel Nine and Fox League. Tickets from Ticketek.
Raiders team: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Sebastian Kris, 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (c), 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. Hudson Young, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Joe Tapine. Interchange:14. Siliva Havili, 15. Ryan Sutton, 16. Sia Soliola, 17. Ryan James. Reserves: 18. Sam Williams, 19. Tom Starling, 20. Emre Guler, 21. Harley Smith-Shields.
Tigers team: 1. Daine Laurie, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. James Roberts, 4. Joseph Leilua, 5. AJ Kepaoa, 6. Moses Mbye, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. James Tamou (c), 9. Jacob Liddle, 10. Joe Ofahengaue, 11. Luke Garner, 12. Luciano Leilua, 13. Alex Twal. Interchange: 14. Tommy Talau, 15. Thomas Mikaele, 16. Stefano Utoikamanu, 17. Russell Packer. Reserves: 18. Jock Madden, 19. Michael Chee Kam, 20. Tuki Simpkins, 21. Alex Seyfarth.
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