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Leilua named to start for Raiders despite injury cloud

Canberra Raiders centre Joey Leilua has been named in the centres after scans revealed his injured ankle is much better than first feared.

The prognosis did not look promising on Sunday night, with Leilua taken from the field on a medicab early in the first half.

Elliott Whitehead has been cleared to play against the New Zealand Warriors in round three, among other mixed news on the injury front for the side.

Whitehead is receiving treatment for a back strain suffered in the side's 30-28 loss the Newcastle Knights on Sunday night.

"It was just a little tweak and I'm getting physio for it, but I'll be fine for this weekend," Whitehead said.

"It was a bit sore, and it was sore after the game, but we've got some good medical staff here, so I'll be fine."

After the bruising loss, coach Ricky Stuart has made several changes to his extended squad.

Round 2 in pictures

Aidan Sezer has been named to start in the halves with Blake Austin back in the No.14 jersey.

Liam Knight comes into the side as a substitute for the injured Charlie Gubb (groin) while Joseph Tapine has been named as 18th man despite a thumb injury. New signing Ata Hingano is also on the extended bench.

Whitehead said Gubb would be hard to replace, given the spark the former Warriors forward provided off the bench in his club debut.

"I think Charlie had a great debut, he came on and made some strong runs and he made an offload that led to a try as well, so it's disappointing he's pulled his groin."

Knight has notched just one game in the NRL with the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in 2016 but the 23-year-old hasĀ produced some strong recent form with the Mounties in the Intrust Super Premiership.

It's no secret the Raiders have defensively not been up to scratch in the first two rounds, giving away 30 points in each narrow loss.

Their ability to defend on the edge has been put under the microscope leading into their clash this Saturday against a Warriors side brimming with confidence after two wins to start the season.

"We're still confident, we know what kind of ability we've got in the squad and what we are capable of, we just need to fix a couple of things up," Whitehead said.

"We looked at video today and we've looked at the some of the areas in defence that have left us down and we're going to work on them this week."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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