A mismatch on paper has plenty of interest in round 4.
The Canberra Raiders shouldn't be short on motivation against one of the competition heavyweights, when they face the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The match will have no shortage of players coming up against former clubs, with Iosia Soliola and Frank-Paul Nuuausala playing their first match against the Roosters—and most notably Blake Ferguson against the club that sacked him several years ago.
The former Canberra troublemaker this week apologised to the Green Machine and its fans, but this could serve to only fuel the fire of resentment. The players and coaching staff will predictably play down the talk leading up to kick-off, but come game time there is likely to still be some feeling to be resolved.
But the Raiders cannot afford to lose their heads in this one. The side has had a consistent start to the season, being competitive in the first three matches of the year and unlucky not to have another win or two.
The reality is, however, that the Green Machine only has two points to its name. Even at such an early stage in the season, to go 1 and 3 after four rounds would be less than desirable.
Sydney is the biggest test of the year so far, and anything less than a competitive performance will see the inevitable questions of Ricky Stuart and his troops start to emerge.
[quote]...come game time there is likely to still be some feeling to be resolved.[/quote]
The Roosters have only had one loss so far this year—against the Premiership favourites South Sydney. They put the Cowboys to the sword in round one, and last week were too strong for one of the dark horses in the Panthers.
The Roosters have dangers all over the field. As well as Ferguson trying to prove something against his old club, there is the halves combination of Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney shooting for Origin spots. Not to mention the likes of Michael Jennings, Sam Moa, and another former Raider in Matt McIlwrick.
The Raiders have been boosted with the return of Jack Wighton from injury, and hard-working Glen Buttriss. The new recruits like Sisa Waqa and Josh Hodgson are also continuing to put their marks on the team.
There’s also the factor of the location that counts against Canberra in this one. The Raiders have a poor history at Allianz, but these days they seem to better away from home. Maybe it’s time for that stat to change.
Everyone except the ardent Raiders fans will tip the Roosters in this one. On form they should win, but it may not be as easy as many think. Who knows—if there is enough feeling in the contest the Raiders may just rise to the lofty challenge.