Soliola backs Raiders' siege mentality
Veteran Raiders enforcer Sia Soliola has backed his Canberra side's 'siege mentality' ahead of this weekend's preliminary final showdown with the Melbourne Storm.
With the guidance of coach Ricky Stuart, the Raiders have fostered an 'us against the world' attitude in 2016 which helped them skyrocket to second on the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder.
It was on show again in the Raiders' 22-12 semi-final victory last Saturday night, when they eliminated a fast-finishing Penrith Panthers outfit.
"Canberra really caters for that mentality. You can hype it up as much as you want. We just love being here. We love the community, the town and the blokes we play with," Soliola told NRL.com.
"We really love our mateship and brotherhood here, and we're really relishing this time and enjoying the experiences we're having right now."
Soliola's first stint against the Panthers was among his best performance since arriving at the Raiders last year.
A man on a mission, Soliola tore shreds off the Panthers' middle men and produced a charge-down on Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary that former Bulldogs and Warriors great Steve Price would have been proud of.
Soliola's inspiration came from the Raiders' disappointing qualifying final loss to the Sharks the week prior, and a focus on starting the game strongly alongside props Junior Paulo and Shannon Boyd.
"It's a do-or-die attitude I have. We have been pretty desperate lately," Soliola said.
"It was tough going down to the Sharks but we learnt a lot from that. It's something we always speak between Boydy, Junior and me in terms of sparking the side in the first 20.
"We have that responsibility to start the game well and that's all we can do, just do our job the best that we can for the team."
Soliola's mid-season move to lock – at the expense of fellow veteran Shaun Fensom – has provided the 30-year-old a new lease at life.
The Samoan and Kiwis international spent time in the No. 13 jumper at St Helens in his final season in the Super League, which helped convince Stuart to shift Soliola to the middle of the paddock.
"When I spoke to Ricky earlier this year I told him having Elliott [Whitehead] and Papa (Josh Papalii) on the edges was for the best because I could still filter around the middle," Stuart said.
"We tried using Papa a little bit in the middle last year and that didn't work for him. It's fortunate I can be a little versatile there.
"I've played on the wing, the back row and in the centres this season so I'm happy to play wherever I'm needed. It's all about the club first."
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