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Trial to shape Raiders' centre battle

Trial to shape Raiders' centre battle
New Raiders signing Jordan Turner. Copyright: Raiders.com.au.

UK import Jordan Turner and teenager Nick Cotric will use Canberra's only trial to battle it out to replace injured skipper Jarrod Croker at centre in the early stages of the NRL season.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said Saturday night's match against Newcastle in Queanbeyan would have a major bearing on which player gets the nod to fill Croker's position, with the club's all-time leading point scorer not expected to return until at least round five due to a knee injury.

Stuart said Turner, who joined the club from England's St Helens in the off-season, and 18-year-old Cotric deserved to be in the frame to fill in for Croker.

"We have Jordan who has played over 200 Super League games and Nick who hasn't played a first-grade game yet.

"Both on different levels or stages of their football careers but both have exceptional talent."

Star hooker Josh Hodgson will step in as captain in Croker's absence, with Stuart saying he hadn't expected him to reach the heights he has after two seasons in the NRL.

"For us to make him captain of the club while Jarrod's out is a great honour for him," Stuart said.

"His game has excelled so much.

"When you see what he does around training and the extra work he does (and) the amount of individual practice, it doesn't surprise you."

 


Stuart said there are a number of strong leaders in the Raiders squad capable of wearing the captain's armband.

"I'm very fortunate as a coach that it's a tough decision but it's a decision that every player supports," he said.

While fullback Jack Wighton has the ability to play at centre, Stuart is not entertaining a switch at this point.

"I don't want to weaken the fullback position with Jack moving elsewhere unless it was absolutely a necessity," Stuart said.

"It's not a necessity at the moment, we've got players there that can fill Jarrod's position."

The Raiders have named a 32-man squad for the trial, which Stuart said was an important hit-out ahead of their round one clash with the Cowboys in Townsville on March 4.

"Most players will get a run," Stuart said.

"It's really good for some of our new guys to get the opportunity to play with some of our first-grade players who will mix the combinations up and try and find what we've got."

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