Raiders turn to Taylor to stop the other 'JT'
The Raiders have imported some prime Blackwater beef in order to combat colossal Cowboys Jason Taumalolo and Coen Hess with Dave Taylor tasked with stopping their momentum through the middle after earning an NRL recall.
Not sighted in Canberra's top team since their Round 5 win over the Eels, Taylor has been named in the 17 to face the Cowboys at GIO Stadium on Saturday night as coach Ricky Stuart looks for a way to stop the visitors dominating the middle third of the field.
Looking to avoid a fourth straight loss that would begin to put pressure on their premiership aspirations, Taylor's inclusion gives the Raiders size off the bench that they have been lacking in recent weeks and provides support to starting front-rowers Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo.
"We've got a really big forward pack and the inclusion of Dave there will boost us a lot," said winger Jordan Rapana.
"With 'Boydy' and Junior starting sometimes when those two come off we lose a bit of size and him coming on definitely brings that as well as experience.
"He's a quality, experienced NRL player so I think he'll bring a lot of size and experience.
"Nothing against our smaller forwards but it definitely helps having that big body there and gets us a bit of punch and on the front foot."
Getting on the front foot is something the Cowboys excel in with both Taumalolo and Hess busting through the 200-metre barrier in their 14-12 win over the Panthers last week in Townsville.
With Matt Scott and now Johnathan Thurston out for the season it is a far different North Queensland team than that which defeated the Raiders in golden point in Round 1 and one which relies on their power game more than ever.
"We're definitely expecting a different side because a lot of their football has revolved around 'JT' but now that he's not there we've seen a different Cowboys as you saw last week," said Canberra back-rower Sia Soliola.
"They were real energetic, Taumalolo does his thing in the middle which is a real impact for them and that's going to be a real thing that we've highlighted this week, in terms of trying to stop the Cowboys.
"For us as the opposition sometimes we try and focus on a few things that they've been doing consistently really well but because they've had a few changes we also have to adapt.
"It's a little bit of a slight shuffle in the way that we review things but there's one thing in rugby league that never changes and that's running hard and tackling hard.
"That will never change."
Following heart-breaking losses to the Sea Eagles and Panthers the Raiders squandered a number of opportunities to defeat the Broncos late last week but Soliola says that the nature of the losses show a win is not far away.
"We're winning half the battle, the effort, and that's the hard part," said Soliola.
"That's hard to get in a squad, for everyone to buy in and really work hard for each other and that's what we've still got.
"You can tell by the way we're performing our effort's still there and we're still working, we just haven't come up with the results and that's a matter of a few things that we need to tweak.
"It will come and we can tell that the community is right behind us and they've got our backs and that's been a really huge positive for us.
"Of course a couple of days after some tough losses it gets a bit tough but when we actually come into training it's been great.
"We've got a great bunch here that really thrive off being around each other. That's what Ricky's created with this playing group so in terms of spirit, we haven't lost any."