Raiders steel themselves for full-strength Panthers
Canberra prop Shannon Boyd said the Raiders are expecting to tackle a full-strength Panthers side despite four of their stars facing a 48-hour turnaround from State of Origin.
Penrith have been preparing this week as if they could be without high-profile quartet Nathan Cleary, James Maloney, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Tyrone Peachey for their trip to GIO Stadium on Friday night.
But Boyd says the Raiders must be ready for all four to take the field in the crucial clash.
Canberra play six of their next seven games away after round 14, which makes this home clash with the ladder leaders even more vital if the Raiders are to push for a finals berth.
"If those four guys decide to play then they'll play as well as they would in any other game. We have to prepare as if they will have all of their Origin players and if they don't well they'll still be the same team with the same principles."
Boyd said he and fellow forwards Elliott Whitehead, Dunamis Lui and Josh Papalii are looking forward to the challenge of trying to slow down the Panthers pack, which is third in the competition for post-contact metres according to NRL Stats.
"I think the Panthers are probably the best side in the comp at the moment by a fair way," Boyd said.
"It's just their consistency, they've turned up every game, they compete every game and haven't had many off games.
"If you can find that consistency you get that confidence which is hard to beat."
Speaking for the first time since signing a four-year deal with the Gold Coast, Boyd said finalising his future has given him a clearer mind as he looked to end his stint on a high note, with the 25-year-old believing the Raiders can win the grand final if they make the top eight.
"It (contract negotiations) was happening over a fair period of time and I would have liked to have stayed but it wasn't really an option in the end," he said.
"It's nice to know what I'm doing in the future and it's probably helped ease my mind a little bit.
"Some games you get more ball and you don't do as much defence, so your game always looks better when that happens.
"So, it's hard to say where my form is at the moment when we're completing, and we've got plenty of possession we all look good."