Canberra will hit back after heart-breaking loss: Soliola
Canberra Raiders forward Iosia Soliola has backed the club's pack to step up in the absence of the injured Joseph Tapine.
The 23-year-old left the field with a fractured finger during the side's heart-breaking 30-28 loss to the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium.
Tapine is listed as week to week and is out of the side for their clash with the Newcastle Knights on Sunday, after an impressive first game of the season.
The Kiwi international showed his work-rate early, completing runs for 67 metres and notching up 23 tackles with an offload to round out his stat line.
His absence will be felt, according to Soiliola, but it's not something they can't overcome in the short term given their depth in the forwards.
"We missed him when he came off, but it's quite nice we've got somebody like Elliott Whitehead who started his career in the back row where he plays for England, so I assume he'll just slip straight in there."
Match: Raiders vs Knights
Venue: GIO Stadium
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Charlie Gubb will make his club debut after being named on the bench, with Whitehead selected in the second row with Luke Bateman at lock.
After jumping out to an 18-0 lead the Titans and all but running away with the game, the Raiders were unable to hold on, causing questions to be asked if they can finish off close games.
A lack of ball cruelled the side's chances, with just 40 per cent possession for the game coming off the back of a 69 per cent completion rate, which resulted in the Raiders being forced to make 97 more tackles.
"Obviously, we're disappointed and frustrated, which is probably the nicest way of putting it and in terms of doubt, we don't have any," Soliola said.
"Throughout this pre-season, we trained pretty hard and a lot of things were addressed in terms of rectify a few things from last year.
"Maybe it seems like old habits were creeping in from last year, but we've got no doubts, we've addressed it today and we know where we need to go moving forward."
Blake Austin being dropped to the bench dominated discussions around the Raiders before round one, only for coach Ricky Start to pull a late switch and move Aidan Sezer to the interchange.
Despite the shuffling, Soliola praised the performance of Sam Williams, who kept the defenders guessing at the line, allowing the forwards to exploit gaps such as the one found by Whitehead for his try in the 10th minute.
"That's why we've got Sammy here, he's a great organiser and he knows how to use everybody around him to his best," Soliola said.
"So, it was good having him on board and Blake and Aidan as well to push and drive the team along as well as each other.
"But we can't deny the fact what Gold Coast did, so you have to admire their resilience and their effort to come back."
Soliola said the side's forwards will have a tough time stopping the Knights forwards, who are full of confidence after their golden-point victory over the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
"They're really impressive last week so it's going to be tough," he said.
"I think it will go down to the wire because they looked impressive with all of the little things they were doing.
"You could see the excitement, the energy they have not just on the football field and the support off the field, so it's going to be a tough ask for us, but we are all really looking forward to the challenge."