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Canberra braced for brutal battle with Boyd

The Canberra Raiders know the task of blunting the impact of the Gold Coast Titans forwards in round one has been made that much harder all thanks to a familiar face.

Former Kangaroos prop Shannon Boyd joined the Titans as literally their biggest off-season signing, adding significant firepower in the middle of the field for coach Garth Brennan.

Boyd joins Ryan James, Jarrod Wallace, Kevin Proctor and Jai Arrow to take on a Raiders pack that has adopted a different strategy for 2019.

Long being known for having one of the most physically imposing packs in the Telstra Premiership, Canberra has started to shed that stereotype, opting for skill over size.

"I don't think blue suits him," Papalii said of Boyd's new playing strip.

"Obviously they'll be a bigger forward pack now Shannon Boyd's there. He was a massive loss for the Raiders, but we've got some young boys coming through and hopefully they can do a job for us.

Titans prop Shannon Boyd.
Titans prop Shannon Boyd. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

"It will be really emotional playing against Boydy because we came through SG Ball and the under 20s and playing in the NRL together, so I hope he does well, but we get the win."

How coach Ricky Stuart uses new English imports Ryan Sutton and John Bateman this weekend will give a much clearer indication of their role in the team going forward.

The greater depth in the Raiders' forwards with the pair's arrival from Wigan means every player will need to work hard to earn their spot.

"It's a massive challenge for our forward pack not being as big in previous years, but in saying that we've picked up some international players in Batey and Sutto," Papalii said.

Raiders forward John Bateman.
Raiders forward John Bateman. ©

"I can't wait to get out there and see those boys play in the lime green jersey and hopefully do well."

Canberra will be looking to exorcise the demons of the corresponding game in 2018.

The Raiders led 18-0, only to see the margin evaporate as they Titans stormed home to win 30-28 in a wild season-opener.

The heart-breaking loss sparked a horror start to the season - a run of losses by a combined margin of just five points.

"Hopefully we can finish off the last 15 minutes with the same intensity we started off the game with," Papalii said of last year's game.

"I think that game last year will come back to haunt us, but we've trained all off-season for this moment, so hopefully we go out there on Sunday and deliver."

The loss last season in round one still hurts Canberra veteran Sia Soliola, who knows this is the year for the team to climb back to the heights of their deep finals run in 2016.

Raiders forward Sia Soliola.
Raiders forward Sia Soliola. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL Photos

"It's put a bit of fire in the belly sitting out the last couple of years from finals," Soliola said.

"Understanding the position we're at with the guys we have in the side and the belief we have in the group, that’s going to help us this season when we look at what we want to strive for."

Entering his third season, it seemed only yesterday Nick Cotric was making his NRL debut.

The winger sensation had some words of wisdom for his rookie teammates.

"Just keep working hard and don't get too nervous," Cotric said.

"If you make one little mistake, don't get rattled just keep playing your game and you'll be fine."

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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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