You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Meninga backs Raiders as NRL contenders

NZN 30/03/2017 Matt Coughlan

Canberra remain premiership contenders despite their 1-3 start to the NRL season, according Raiders' legend and Australian coach Mal Meninga.

The club's most-recent premiership captain believes depth is their greatest asset as they push for their first title since 1994.

And while many have tipped last year's preliminary finalists to go one better in 2017, losses to North Queensland, Cronulla and Brisbane have them sitting outside the top eight after four rounds.

"Except for being blown away by the Sharks, I've been impressed with their efforts," Meninga told AAP.

"I think they've been really resilient in the way they've gone about their business."

The Raiders have continued their habit of engaging in tight tussles, with a golden-point loss to the Cowboys and a one-point defeat last week to the Broncos.

"They've hung in there well and nearly beat the Cows away and nearly beat Brisbane away," Meninga said.

"I like the way they came back against Brisbane.

"They shot themselves in the foot with their mistake rate, particularly early in the second half."

Elliot Whitehead's suspension has paved the way for Sia Soliola to return to the Raiders' starting line-up to face Parramatta on Saturday at GIO Stadium, which Meninga says is a measure of their depth.

"They've just got to start to string some wins together shortly and I think (the premiership is) possible," he said.

"If they get over the Eels on the weekend, then they've got the Warriors and the Titans, so they're very winnable games."

Former State of Origin and Test forward Dave Taylor returns to the bench for the clash with the Eels, as he continues his NRL comeback.

The Kangaroos' coach is not ruling out a return to representative football if the 28-year-old can get back to his best.

"If Dave is willing to put the effort in, he'll be rewarded," Meninga said.

"He's such a talented individual. But you've got to work hard for your success.

"If he's willing to do that and he's willing to do that with Canberra - how good is that?

"He can blow a game open on his own at times."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon