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Backbone: Green Machine greats expect spine to shine

Four linchpins vital in the Raiders' bid for grand final glory tonight follow in the footsteps of four players who won a premiership with the club 25 years ago.

A quarter of a century has floated by but Brett Mullins, Laurie Daley, Ricky Stuart and Steve Walters see a lot to like in Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Jack Wighton, Aidan Sezer and Steve Walters.

Is it enough to win the Raiders a fourth NRL premiership? Time will tell.

The four spine members from 1994 take great delight in watching the four men who tonight will wear the No.1, No.6, No.7 and No.9 jerseys for Canberra at ANZ Stadium.

Mullins on Nicoll-Klokstad

"He's always looking for something to do, so that's something I really enjoy about his game," Mullins said.

"And he's a tough bugger too. He's got that bit of mongrel in his style of wanting the ball and taking it upfield.

"Maybe that's come from being at the Warriors with limited opportunities and then coming to Canberra and grabbing his chance with both hands.

"He has this enjoyment about his football. He's always sniffing around for it.

"To me he's been a great asset to the club."

Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL Photos

Daley on Wighton

"I like three main things about Jack but there's a lot more he does in games that really appeal to me," Daley said.

"Firstly, I love the way he runs the ball and attacks the line. He's always looking to break it and I love that hunger in him.

"Secondly, he has this great ability to keep competing right down to the last bounce. And that inspires all the other players around him.

"Thirdly, he has this aggressive nature in defence. He isn't just a half who sits back and says 'Come on, run at me.'

"He goes right in there and makes his tackles on anything that moves near him."

Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton.
Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Stuart on Sezer

"Aidan keeps his personality and his character pretty close to his chest and doesn't let too much out. I respect him for that. We have a great relationship where there is a good trust," Stuart says.

"He has been a big driving force with his control and ownership of the team over the past half a season. He's taken some added responsibility as the halfback in the team and has linked in really well with Charnze and Jack Wighton.

"He's an important cog in what those two players can do.

"He's got a wonderful left-foot kick and he's got great ability with the field goal. And he's a very good goal-kicker.

Aidan is a very composed player under pressure, which is so important for a halfback's make-up."

Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer.
Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer. ©NRL Photos

Walters on Hodgson

"There's lots of things I like about Josh," Walters said.

"First of all, it's his competitiveness. I knew a fair bit about that with all my brothers but Josh is right up there.

"Secondly, it's no good having that mentality in always going hard at it, if you can't apply some skill levels under pressure. He makes great decisions under pressure – that's a tremendous skill.

Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson.
Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

"He always looks like he has time and he always seems to make the right choices. The really good players always look like they have more time with the ball in hand; always looking confident.

"Working in well with your halfback is all part of that good decision-making too.

"So they are the two main things I like about him.

"I wish in some respects I could have played like him so I could have kept my cool better in some situations.

"He's a real tough and resilient player and doesn't get enough credit for that."

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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