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Pack mentality has Raiders primed to hit back: Harawira-Naera

Losing games of footy is one thing, but being out-enthused by a rival pack was never going to sit well with Corey Harawira-Naera and his fellow Raiders forwards.

After launching their season in style with a come-from-behind win over Cronulla, the Green Machine rolled north to Townsville confident of opening the year 2-0 but 80 minutes and 15 errors later, the scoreboard read 26-6 Cowboys.

Harawira-Naera admits Sunday's review was a horror show but the Kiwi international says the solution is staring them in the face.

"Our forward pack, we take that personally the way we played on the weekend, we weren't up to par. Individually and as a pack it wasn't good enough and we had a look at ourselves," he said.

"A lot of it comes back on us, we gave them too many opportunities so we know we need to be better as a team and individually as well.

NRL Teams: Raiders v Titans

"The Cowboys just beat us with enthusiasm and energy and we couldn’t match it with them. We zapped our own energy by not being able to hold the ball and having to defend all night."

The absence of hooker Josh Hodgson and halfback Brad Schneider in Townsville, coupled with the long-term injury to Jamal Fogarty, left the Raiders vulnerable but Harawira-Naera is adamant it's the forwards who need to step up.

"We know our pack can go with anyone on our day but we weren’t up to par agains the Cowboys," he said.

"It doesn’t matter who halves are, if your pack isn’t dominating the other pack and going forward then it is going to be a lot harder.

"The Titans have a young and enthusiastic pack so if we come out like we did against the Cowboys it will happen again but we know it's not going to happen, we're too competitive that."

With Josh Papalii, Joe Tapine, Hudson Young and Harawira-Naera leading the way, the Raiders will look to turn around an alarming set of numbers from the round two loss which showed the Cowboys' starting pack made 671 metres on the night compared to 460 metres for the Canberra six.

Total metres gained went North Queensland's way 1739 to 1112 and the Raiders were forced to make 82 more tackles on the night, but there's one stat the recently re-signed Harawira-Naera was able to smile about when he fronted the media on Tuesday.

"I've got a 100 per cent record [with my goalkicking], not many have done that before, I’m retiring from kicking now," he smiled.

"I'm glad I got the one kick I had on the weekend, so happy days, but Brad can come straight back and take care of that, it's too much head noise for me."

Horsburgh: I didn’t want to go anywhere else

On a more serious note, Harawira-Naera was keen to pay tribute to Hodgson, whose time with the Raiders has been cut short by another serious knee injury.

After eight years, 138 games and a grand final with the Raiders, the Englishman is bound for Parramatta in 2023, leaving a huge hole on and off the field in Canberra.

"I really feel for Josh, he has been through the wars in the last couple of years with his knees," Harawira-Naera said.

"It would have been an emotional rollercoaster for him thinking it was something else and then finding out it was his ACL. He thought he’d be back in a couple of weeks and now he’s gone for the season and won’t get the chance to wear the green jersey again.

"It's tough on all of us. We'll miss having him around but I know he'll poke his head in the first chance he gets. He brings a lot of energy around the joint, he's the one that cracks the jokes when things are a bit tough and putting smiles on boys' faces, so we're going to miss him a bit but it's a bit of a motivator for us to play for him."

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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