Canberra will be heavy favourites against Wests Tigers at GIO Stadium but their opponents come into the clash with superb trial form.
After making the grand final in 2019 and the preliminary final last year, the Raiders enter the new season as one of the genuine title contenders.
The Tigers have undergone an overhaul in the off-season under coach Michael Maguire and, despite missing a few players due to injuries and suspensions, they enter the game on the back of an emphatic trial win over Manly.
They racked up a 52-18 drubbing of the Sea Eagles at Leichhardt Oval with halfback Luke Brooks controlling proceedings, new fullback Daine Laurie impressing in his club debut and second-rower Luciano Leilua causing havoc on the edges.
Raiders v Tigers
Match: Raiders v Wests Tigers
Round 1 -
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Raiders: Canberra will start 1-17 after Sam Williams and Harley Smith-Shields were the last two players dropped from the squad. Sebastian Kris is a left-field selection in place of co-captain Jarrod Croker (shoulder), beating out Matthew Timoko.
Croker had been given the all-clear to resume full squad training and was thought a chance of being fit for the season opener after it was initially feared he would be out for the first month.
Veteran recruit Ryan James will play in the No.17 jersey. Tom Starling and Emre Guler were the two players left out 24 hours before kick-off.
Forward duo Corey Horsburgh and Corey Harawira-Naera have both missed selection in the initial 21-man squad after being suspended for one and two weeks respectively over off-season drink-driving charges.
Wests Tigers: Michael Maguire's side will start 1-17 after Jock Madden and Michael Chee-Kam were omitted an hour before the match. Moses Mbye will start at No.6 after shaking off hamstring concerns.
Daine Laurie has won the fullback jersey and fellow recruit James Roberts will line up in the centres alongside Joey Leilua, who is set to return after missing the big trial win over Manly with a minor foot injury. On the wing, Tommy Talau has been relegated to the bench by Asu Kepaoa.
Tukimihia Simpkins and Alex Seyfarth were dropped 24 hours before kick-off.
Match: Raiders v Wests Tigers
Round 1 -
Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-KlokstadFullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Daine Laurie
Winger for Raiders is number 2 Bailey SimonssonWinger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
Centre for Raiders is number 3 Sebastian KrisCentre for Wests Tigers is number 3 James Roberts
Centre for Raiders is number 4 Curtis ScottCentre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Joseph Leilua
Winger for Raiders is number 5 Jordan RapanaWinger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Asu Kepaoa
Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack WightonFive-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Moses Mbye
Halfback for Raiders is number 7 George WilliamsHalfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks
Prop for Raiders is number 8 Josh PapaliiProp for Wests Tigers is number 8 James Tamou
Hooker for Raiders is number 9 Josh HodgsonHooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Jacob Liddle
Prop for Raiders is number 10 Dunamis LuiProp for Wests Tigers is number 10 Joe Ofahengaue
2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Hudson Young2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Luke Garner
2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Luciano Leilua
Lock for Raiders is number 13 Joseph TapineLock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Alex Twal
Interchange for Raiders is number 14 Siliva HaviliInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Tommy Talau
Interchange for Raiders is number 15 Ryan SuttonInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Thomas Mikaele
Interchange for Raiders is number 16 Iosia SoliolaInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Stefano Utoikamanu
Interchange for Raiders is number 17 Ryan JamesInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Russell Packer
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Touch Judge: Dave Munro
- Touch Judge: Drew Oultram
- Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein
George Williams v Luke Brooks: Each halfback will be charged with guiding their team around the park this year.
For Williams, his organisational play will allow star five-eighth Jack Wighton to cause damage with his running game while Brooks has been given the keys to the team following veteran playmaker Benji Marshall's off-season departure to Souths.
The Tigers were the best in the NRL for decoy runs in 2020 - they registered 1124 over the course of the Telstra Premiership season but it didn't necessarily translate into a points advantage with Maguire's squad ranking eighth overall in scoring.
What will be the result in this Telstra Premiership clash?
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