Injuries mount for Raiders after loss to Knights
The Canberra Raiders' horror start to the season has been further soured with several serious injuries threatening to derail the early part of their campaign.
It was a case of déjà vu for Ricky Start and his men, as they watched a lead slip away in the closing minutes to lose 30-28 to the Newcastle Knights, the same score as their loss to the Titans in round one.
Compounding Canberra's woes are injuries to Joey Leilua (ankle) and off-season recruit Charlie Gubb (groin), both of whom are a chance of missing next weekend's home game against the Warriors.
Leilua was stretchered off the field in the 16th minute after collapsing under the weight of a gang tackle.
''It's not looking real good,'' Stuart said.
''We've got a couple of other injuries too. I'll just have to wait and see where we are at come Wednesday or Thursday.''
Gubb could also be sidelined after injuring himself as he stood to play the ball after a tackle.
The former New Zealand Warrior did leave the change rooms unassisted after the game, But he walked with a noticeable limp and is questionable for the round three battle against his former club.
Match: Raiders vs Knights
Venue: GIO Stadium
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On paper the Raiders improved in several areas from their first-up loss to the Gold Coast Titans.
An 85 per cent completion rate combined with 33 tackle breaks and 16 less missed tackles than the Knights should have paved the way for the Green Machine to open their account for 2018.
However, Stuart remained philosophical about the team's chances this season despite the crushing nature of the loss to the Knights.
''Yeah 100 per cent we'll turn it around,'' he said.
''It's not all about next week. Every game is a very important game obviously, but it's about making sure we don't lose all of that effort and desire that's there.
''The contributions from individuals is there so I can't go off on any tangent and rip people's heads off because I'm upset about losing the game. I have to be understanding of what the players are going through."
Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker said the team's desire to turn their season around starts in round three against the New Zealand Warriors.
''It's frustrating. We sat in the same position last week and didn't feel like we leaked 30 points,'' Croker said.
''At the end of the day we have to be better than that, but I can't question anybody's effort. I know people might laugh at that, saying we lose and we conceded 30 points again, but I know what my boys are doing in there.''
Shortly after full-time the Knights and Raiders came together for a moving memorial ceremony to pay tribute to former Canberra winger Kato Ottio, who tragically lost his life in January in his native Papua New Guinea.
Stuart said the Papua New Guinea display helped give his side's loss some perspective.
''It was something I really taking in when I was standing there. I have his family beside me who are still grieving,'' he said.
''It puts life in perspective when you're losing a game compared to what's happening to that poor family.''