Canberra forward Elliott Whitehead has declared the Raiders boast "the best pack in the whole league" as they brace for a test against "unstoppable" Penrith giants.
The Raiders have identified Viliame Kikau and James Fisher-Harris as the men they need to shut down if they are to derail the Panthers' unbeaten run in Penrith on Friday night.
Canberra flyer Jordan Rapana says Penrith's pack is virtually unstoppable when Penrith's big men find momentum.
Couple that with in-form halves and firepower in the outside backs, and Friday's clash looms as one of the games of the season and will draw plenty of eyeballs amid frustration about one-sided affairs.
Yet Raiders back-rower Whitehead is relishing the challenge in a contest that will pit a host of representative stars against each other.
"I honestly do think we probably have got the best pack in the whole league," Whitehead said.
"It's always nice to come up against good opposition. Their pack is one of the best packs in the league. Fisher-Harris has been amazing all year. He just picked up where he left off last year.
"We'll be looking to stop a player like him, and Kikau as well. It's going to be a tough job but I believe the pack we've got here can match them.
"Ryan Sutton has really stepped up this year. He's been great all year, he has been playing some big minutes. He is getting through a lot of hard work for us. He's a great guy off the field and it's pleasing to see him get his minutes on the field."
Penrith have conceded just 16 points through four games while the Raiders pride themselves on their defensive resolve, giving up just one try in a win over the Gold Coast last week.
Rapana says the Raiders will have to back that showing up and set the tone with heavy contact in defence if they are to beat the competition leaders.
"With blokes like Kikau, their forward pack is one of the best in the comp at the minute so as soon as they get momentum, they're unstoppable," Rapana said.
"As long as we win those first few tackles and we're hitting together, and we apply those same things we focused on against the Titans, that will be really good.
"Our biggest focus going into that game was hitting together. Against the Warriors our contact was good but we just seemed to be doing it individually. Against the Titans with players like Tino [Fa'asuamaleaui] and Dave Fifita, if you go out on your own and try to smack them, you come off second best.
"We addressed that and I thought our hitting together was really good, we were able to slow down the ruck and win those tackles."
NRL ROUND FIVE
Friday: Penrith Panthers v Canberra Raiders at Panthers Stadium, 7.55pm.
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