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In the search for a much-needed victory, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has put his faith in a new-look backline, a new face on the bench and some old school resolve when the going gets tough.

On the back of three straight losses the Raiders travel to BlueBet Stadium on Sunday to tackle the unbeaten and unflappable Panthers, whose premiership defence has started in a blaze of points, power and precision.

In contrast, the Raiders have mustered just 88 points across six matches and will be hoping Xavier Savage can add some X-factor on the wing and veteran Jordan Rapana's move to fullback gets their sets off to a more energetic start.

"Jordan's a worker, he's always popping up and he will fit in very well at fullback," said five-eighth Jack Wighton.

"Xavier's an exciting young player and he’s been waiting patiently to get his crack. He gets his chance to shine and we know he’ll stand up. I'm looking forward to playing with him."

When Stuart casts his eye along his bench looking for impact he will find young Englishman Harry Rushton champing at the bit to rip in on debut.

Panthers v Raiders

Rushton joined the Raiders from Wigan at the end of 2020 and made a good impression in 10 NSW Cup appearances last year before the season was cancelled due to COVID.

In five games this season the 21-year-old back-rower has averaged 120 metres per game and scored three tries as well as getting through a power of work in defence to stake an undeniable claim for a call-up. 

"Harry moved here when he was quite young and has been around for a few years now and puts his best foot forward every week," said Wighton.

"It's tough for all our Pommy boys to move over here and make that transition and it was even tougher for him with the pandemic and being away from family for such a long time.

"To hold his head high and keep training and get through all those patches is a tribute to him."

At 190cm and 98kg, Rushton can more than hold his own physically but it's between the ears where the biggest test will come when the Panthers crank up the intensity.

The Raiders let a comfortable half-time lead slip away against the Cowboys last week and Wighton is well aware a similar fadeout could prove catastrophic against the NRL's benchmark side.

Schneider denied his first NRL try

"We do it beautifully for 40 minutes and then drop the bundle for 15-20 minutes and put ourselves out of he game and that’s what is hurting us," he said.

"It’s not the way we are trying to attack that's the problem it’s just our concentration in every second of the game.

"We made errors in defence and attack and they’re both things we have done since we were little kids... the restructure of way we are doing things is not the problem it’s mental lapses and playing for 80 minutes.

"We are not losing games because teams are better than us, we are losing games because we are beating ourselves and that’s evident."

In the ultimate test of their playmaking prowess, Wighton and young No.7 Brad Schneider match wits with Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai, a stern examination they are both eager to tackle.

"There's nothing better than coming up against the best in the business," said Wighton. "They’ve been class [Nathan and Jarome] and everyone has to buy in and do their job to stop them coming at us."

Now six games into his NRL career, Schneider is gradually growing in confidence as he partnership with Wighton develops.

ANZAC Round, 2022

"We are learning every game and I want to keep growing with Jack. He plays instinctive footy and I try to take control so he is free to do what he does best," Schneider said.

"I've tried to replicate my game from a lot of people and [Nathan] Cleary is one of the best so I do watch him a fair bit but I try and do my own thing as well.

"I'm working very hard on my kicking game and I’m trying to get more confident in every game and make sure I'm enjoying it.

"It's a business and we’re here to play footy but you still have to enjoy it."

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