Soliola applauds tough NRL action over Barba

Canberra veteran Sia Soliola is happy the NRL has drawn a line in the sand regarding anti-social off-field behaviour.

Speaking in the wake of Ben Barba's deregistration, Soliola said players in the past had felt "frustrated" when the game's ruling body seemingly did not go far enough in certain cases.

"I guess Benny Barba is an example of what we were warned about before Christmas," Soliola said.

"We were told that there would be repercussions for our actions especially after the incidents before Christmas that the NRL was going to come down hard and it seems like they're going to stick to their word.

"It's the only way people learn, what boundaries there are. We just hope the player's OK but first and foremost for us collectively we've got to protect the game.

"That's where the mindset should be, the game comes first."

The Canberra hardman has for years being known as one of the game's good guys off the field, having raised $50,000 last year for charity after shaving off his trademark locks.

He implored players to use the turbulent NRL off-season as a turning point in a bid to protect the game which affords them to love out their dreams.

"Not only do the fans and us ourselves, we lose a quality player and the game misses out," he said.

"That's why we [players] need to switch our mindset and just think about what we're hurting.

"For us as players and us as a community I think it's more [impactful] that [the NRL] are sticking by their word and they're actually going to take action.

"There was a little bit of frustration caused in the past for not taking enough action, so we'll see how this works but it's good that they are standing up."

On the field the Raiders are preparing for their first trial of 2019 when they travel to Bega to take on the Canterbury Bulldogs on February 23.

Who will partner Aidan Sezer in the halves for round one is one of the many questions yet to be answered by the Raiders.

However, Soliola has put his vote behind the previously long-standing fullback of the club, Jack Wighton.

"I like the idea, having Jack in front of you when he has the ball and you're in the defensive line, he looks great," he said.

"He'll definitely add a lot of value, but just having Jack back he's going to be a huge boost for us.

"He's been great since being back at training. He was great when he was out as well but he knows what this club is about and it means a lot to him and he means a lot to us."

Despite the departures of Junior Paulo and Shannon Boyd, the Raiders' pack is still flush with talent with a smaller, more mobile and skilled pack set to be rolled out for this season.

"You've got to manage things around your strengths and we have a different pack this year and I'm looking forward to how it's going to pan out, especially in the first couple of trials," Soliola said.

"I'll definitely be there in the middle, but it was good for me to learn to be a little bit versatile last season with the injuries to Joey Tapine.

"There's a lot of energy and enthusiasm around the place and that's been one of the great things about this off-season."