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Canberra to cope without forwards pair

NZN 6/03/2017 Scott Bailey

Canberra's forward depth will be tested after Joseph Tapine joined Clay Priest as a key absentee for Saturday's clash with Cronulla.

It was revealed on Tuesday that Tapine will miss up to five weeks with a broken finger, after he went under the knife to fix an injury sustained in round one's 20-16 golden-point loss to North Queensland.

The 22-year-old Kiwi Test forward will be joined on the sidelines this week by Priest, who will serve a one-match ban over the weekend for dangerous contact on the head or neck area in a tackle.

Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin said the unavailabilities would present a chance for the up-and-coming team to prove their value on Saturday.

"You never like injuries but we've just got to deal with it," Austin said.

"We're not the only team going through it at the moment.

"It's something that's part of our game, whoever deals with it best normally sits closer to the top of the table."

The absences of Tapine and Priest have been made up in part by the return of damaging prop Junior Paulo from a club-imposed suspension.

Jack Wighton is also back, after he pulled out of Saturday's game late with illness.

"Jack's six-two and really solid in defence and another big body," Austin said.

"He's going to be really handy for us."

Canberra and Cronulla last met in the first week of last year's finals series, where Michael Ennis angered the Raiders crowd when he mimicked their Viking clap on victory at full-time.

Wighton said his side had moved past that with Ennis' retirement.

"It's probably a clean slate now," Austin said. "There's no extra motivation for us.

"It's round two of a long year and we're going to be focusing on getting our things a lot more polished than last week."

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