Raiders co-captain Jarrod Croker has been named to make his return against the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday, less than five months after undergoing major offseason shoulder surgery.
The 30-year-old will slot straight back in at left centre in place of young gun Sebastian Kris, who has deputised brilliantly for his captain in wins over the Wests Tigers and Cronulla Sharks.
Croker was cleared by his surgeon earlier this month to return to full contact training prior to round one, and coach Ricky Stuart has patiently allowed his sharpshooter to rebuild fitness in the early stages of this NRL season.
But the time has come to bring the 279-game veteran back into the fold as the Raiders look to replicate last season's fast start and win their first three matches of the year.
Stuart's side for the Warriors clash will be otherwise unchanged, after in-form back-rower Hudson Young was cleared of a knee injury stemming from the narrow Sharks win.
Kris drops back to the extended bench, and will likely be deployed in the NSW Cup after scoring a try against Cronulla.
"Sebby's been going really well, [he was] probably one of our best trainers in the preseason and it's shown the first two games," Raiders centre Curtis Scott said.
The Raiders lost nothing at left centre during Kris's short stint, but have missed Croker's composure and leadership as evidenced in their second half unravelling against the Sharks.
Canberra led 12-0 at half-time at Kogarah and were in complete control until dropped ball and ill-discipline allowed the Sharks back into the contest.
Cronulla goalkicker Chad Townsend twice had the opportunity to level the scores late in the match, but hooked his effort on both occasions.
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Star recruit Ryan James said Croker was ready for a strong return.
"He's been really good, I dare say he probably could've played last week but if you give it that extra week it just gives you that more confidence," James said.
"It's like any injury, the more confidence you have in yourself the better you are coming back from it.
"We had a pretty good first half [against Cronulla] and then came out and dished it up in the second, so it's obviously not good enough.
"To walk away after playing that bad in the second half and get the win was good so you take the two points when you can."
Corey Harawira-Naera didn't feature in Stuart's 21-man extended squad for the Warriors clash, despite having now served his two-match NRL-imposed sanction for a mid-range drink driving offence over the offseason.
SATURDAY: Canberra Raiders v New Zealand Warriors, Canberra Stadium, 3pm
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
2. Bailey Simonsson
3. Jarrod Croker (C)
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
14. Siliva Havili
15. Ryan Sutton
16. Sia Soliola
17. Ryan James
18. Sam Williams
19. Tom Starling
20. Caleb Aekins
21. Sebastian Kri