Raiders eager to start beating top eight teams
If Canberra are doubting themselves before their do-or-die road trip to Melbourne, they aren't showing it.
Junior Paulo and Joe Tapine know they have a tough task keeping their slim finals chances alive, but the statistics suggest a daunting task awaits.
The Raiders are 0-7 against top eight sides this season have played the fewest games against top-four teams, losing both encounters.
On top of that, five of the side's eight wins have come against teams ranked 14th or lower.
However, the self-belief in the squad hasn't been shaken according to Paulo, who said the side knows the side is up against.
"It obviously plays a role, but desperate times calls for desperate measures. It's going to be a tough one going there," Paulo said.
"It has been one of the toughest road trips but one we're looking to overcome."
The mantra of focusing on what they are capable of rather than thinking about their opponents has been a constant one for the Raiders this season.
When they are in form, they are capable of is playing some of the most potent football in the Telstra Premiership, leading the league in tries (75) and points (448).
Tapine believes if the Raiders can get into the game against the premiers, they can cause one of the upsets of the season.
"We're just a competitive bunch, we're not going to focus too much on them, just ourselves and the type of footy we want to play," Tapine said.
"They've got great players but so do we."
The New Zealand international reaffirmed he is not going to change his playing style, despite coming back from his second suspension this year, after being rubbed out for two weeks for a lifting tackle on Canterbury hooker Michael Lichaa.
"We definitely know what he brings, he'll have that aggressive element which is something we're going to need against the Storm being a big pack as well," Paulo said of Tapine's tackling style.
"We can't take anything away from Joey the way he plays, it's him as a player and going up against a big pack it's going to be needed.
"It's something all of the forwards are going to have to bring because we let ourselves down last week with our poor start."
Canberra's ability to crack their "top-eight enigma code" will start with their ability to capitalise on any mistakes handed to them.
Amazingly, Melbourne enter round 20 with the most handling errors (85) and third-most total errors (200) in the Telstra Premiership.
Canberra will field a depleted team with Nick Cotric named at left centre as a replacement for Jarrod Croker, who underwent successful surgery yesterday on his injured knee.
"Nicky's one of those guys who can cover any position in the outside backs, I think he'd even be good in the forwards the way he returns the ball," Paulo joked
"A couple of the boys have spoken to him [Croker] and he says he's just resting up but doing OK."
When asked if he believed Melbourne will target Cotric defensively, Tapine said the 19-year-old's had the physicality to cope.
"Nick's energetic and willing to learn and he just loves being out there," Tapine said.
"I think he's played a bit of centre before, not in grade, but I think he'll handle it well, he's a confident and strong kid so he'll take it on."