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Raiders forward Josh Papalii.

They may look lightweight compared to last season but the Canberra Raiders forwards are still laying the platform early in 2018, leading the Telstra Premiership in post-contact metres.

Canberra has averaged 487 post-contact metres per game over the opening three rounds, marginally ahead of the next best Wests Tigers.

When informed of Canberra's impressive statistic, Josh Papalii pointed to the side's extensive off-season work that has allowed the men in the middle to hit the ground running.

"It's a good stat to have that we've been working really hard in the pre-season, running all of those [kilometres] and putting in that hard work into training but it's still early days," Papalii said.

"I think we got a bit of a blasting from Sticky after the Melbourne game and as a forward pack we were pretty disappointed.

"But that's the beauty of rugby league - there is always a few more rounds left, and I thought we came out aggressive and enthusiastic and I think that got us home."

North Queensland's defence has come under the microscope to start the season after they missed 105 tackles (third most in the Telstra Premiership) leading to them conceding the third most points.

Every try from Round 3

Papalii knows the Cowboys forwards won't roll over and concede metres so easily this weekend and pointed to a familiar face to lead the Canberra charge yet again.

"It's still an international forward pack and it's a big responsibility for us to go up to their territory and do a job," Papalii said.

"There's a few young guys who have already made their debuts and they're pushing me and Sia (Soliola) and the old boys in the pack to try and become better and it's the club a better place to turn up to.

"Uncle Sia is definitely a fatherly mentor to many of us here at the club and his leadership speaks for itself.

"He doesn't have to say much but when he does we tend to follow his example."

This weekend Jack Wighton will be paired with Sam Williams in the halves for just the second time, with the new Raiders five-eighth saying the Cooma junior was a steadying influence on his game in round three.

"Sammy's great; he's an organiser and he really helped me out, Wighton said.

"Every time you get to play with somebody the more you do it the better you get to play together.

"He brings that calmness and organisation out there, he's got a really level head and he's been around for ages and he's really good at what he does."

Wighton drew praise from coach Ricky Stuart after the win over Newcastle for not letting two critical errors, where kicks sailed out on the full, affect the rest of his performance.

Rating the Cowboys this weekend as a "dangerous" proposition, Wighton knows he will have to again stay cool under pressure as he continues to adapt to playing in the front-line in the NRL.

"It was an up-and-down game (last weekend against Newcastle) but it's all about how you bounce back and those things (errors) are going to happen throughout the year," Wighton said.

"it probably won't be the last time it goes wrong this year, I think my head would have fallen off a few years ago but I'm progressing slowly."

Acknowledgement of Country

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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