Depleted Roosters will step up
Beware the depleted Sydney Roosters.
While the Tricolours have conjured up back-to-back victories heading into Sunday's clash with Canberra, they'll be missing key personnel through Origin duty but that hasn't stopped Raiders forward Joseph Tapine from declaring the visitors will be no easy beats.
The last three clashes between the two sides at GIO Stadium have been decided by four points or less – including a 21-20 result that went the Raiders' way in the corresponding clash last season thanks to a Sam Williams field goal.
Newly appointed NSW skipper Boyd Cordner, Blake Ferguson and the recalled Mitchell Pearce will step up for the Blues, while debutant Dylan Napa and back-rower Aidan Guerra will pull on the Maroons jersey to leave the Bondi outfit without some of their key men.
Canberra have lost only Josh Papalii for state duties but are on red alert for the quintet replacing the Roosters' representatives in Trent Robinson's line-up with Auckland Nines player of the tournament Connor Watson set to partner Luke Keary in the halves.
"They've got a good squad no matter how many players are out," Tapine said of the opposition.
"With those guys leaving there are always young players willing to step up and make their mark so I have no doubt they'll still field a good squad.
"The boys have to turn up because every team comes out firing.
"It's important we keep building from here and not get comfortable."
It was a close tussle for the green machine to overcome the Eels with two tries at the backend sealing the win, however the performances of Junior Paulo (209 metres) and Shannon Boyd (114 metres) laid the foundation in the six-point victory.
Tapine will shift from lock to the back-row to replace Papalii for the clash on Sunday – the 23-year-old playing a number of roles for Ricky Stuart in the forward pack this season.
"It depends where "Stick" wants me, I prefer the middle but if he wants me to go out there [on the edge] I will," he said.
"You've always got to strive to get better and there are a lot of things I need to work on with my defence when I'm fatigued – little things like that.
"[Junior and Shannon] are big boys and it's good to have a run after them but the only down side is I'm the smallest there so people probably target me.
"Junior has been getting metres and Boyd's work rate has been good."
The win against the Eels came at an important time for Stuart's men who return home for the Roosters clash after a string of away matches, before back-to-back games on the road once more in Rounds 13 and 14 including a trip to Bathurst against Penrith.
"Especially with Croke's (Jarrod Croker) 200th game we were happy we got the win for him and had a big emphasis on that – it was a milestone for him," Tapine said.
"Just being able to stay close to the family for the preparation makes you look forward to being back at home.
"We will build on the win last week and what worked on the weekend.
"After a couple of losses the win had definitely brought the vibe back up."
Raiders forward Luke Bateman returns to the side replacing Papalii on the bench in an otherwise unchanged line-up.