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Raiders load bench with firepower

NZN 22/07/2016 Roje Adaimy

NRL top-four hopefuls Canberra want to deliver more than just a sucker punch to the Warriors on Saturday.

They intend to pepper them with jabs and wear down their equally-massive pack at GIO Stadium.

The Raiders have named four forwards on their bench, boasting a combined weight of 410kg.

With back-up hooker Kurt Baptiste out injured (ankle), coach Ricky Stuart has loaded his interchange bench with firepower - headed by 110kg wrecking ball Paul Vaughan and the experience of Sia Soliola.

"It is a big pack and that's what we need against a big Warriors," skipper Jarrod Croker said.

"With the four blokes on the bench they can probably use a bit more energy a bit earlier, knowing that they get an extra spell, so it works to their advantage.

"Hopefully they don't blow out too quick."

Lock Luke Bateman, returning from suspension, is hoping to make an immediate impact when he gets a run off the bench - even though he his one of the smaller players.

"Everyone will be going their hardest while they're out there," Bateman said.

He is also open to relieving Josh Hodgson at dummy-half if the English international can't hold out for the full 80 minutes in the absence of Baptiste.

"I've been throwing a few passes at training so if worst comes to worst I can step in and hit the halves on the chest," he laughed.

The Raiders sit fifth and have an opportunity to leapfrog Canterbury into the top four with a win this weekend.

They have won their past three matches and are feeling refreshed after a bye last week.

Croker, who has only twice made the finals since joining the club in 2009, said this season is the first time he's been asked about the prospect of finishing the season in the top half of the ladder.

"The times we have played finals football, we've sort of come from nowhere and made a run for it," Croker added.

"It's good to be thinking about it but it's not a priority at the moment. There's still seven weeks of footy left and anything can happen in that time."


* Canberra have won six of their past seven clashes, and each of their last five matches at home

* The Warriors have lost four of their past five away games, two of them in golden point

* An average of 53 points have been scored in total in the past six meetings between these sides, five of which have been decided by 22 points or more.

(Source: Fox Sports Stats)

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