Baptiste no certain starter for Raiders

A late change at halfback could be on the cards for Canberra in Saturday’s crucial NRL battle against Cronulla at GIO Stadium.

Hooker Kurt Baptiste was named to replace the injured Sam Williams, who is out for up to six weeks with a pectoral tear, ahead of specialist halves Mitch Cornish and Josh McCrone.

But skipper Jarrod Croker on Thursday revealed both Cornish and McCrone had this week been training at No.7, leaving the door open for a potential switch.

Asked whether Baptiste will start against the Sharks, Croker replied: “As far as I know.

“We’ve had Mitch Cornish and Josh McCrone training as well, so we’ll have another today and we’ve got another run tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”

Baptiste played junior football in the halves, but was converted to hooker when he joined Brisbane’s under-20 National Youth League side.

Cornish started the year at halfback for the Raiders but has a poor record of five losses in six matches.

Williams, on the other hand, has won six times in his 10 appearances alongside five-eighth Blake Austin.

This weekend’s clash looms as season-defining for both the Sharks and Raiders, who sit ninth and 10th respectively.

A victory could pitch either side into the top eight, while a defeat would see them lose ground on a congested ladder.

“The longer the season goes on, the more you’ve got those must-win games,” said Croker.

“I think it’s very important for us to back up a win at home last weekend (over Newcastle) with another this weekend.”

Like the Raiders, the Sharks’ forwards – namely Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita and Luke Lewis – were a key part of their side, Croker said.

“So it’s going to be a big clash up the middle,” added the 24-year-old.

“I’m confident if our boys play like they did last weekend, the big boys, it’ll go a long way for us.”

Cronulla have won four of their last five games, claiming a number of big scalps including North Queensland, Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra.

Raiders prop Shannon Boyd said the Sharks were somewhat underrated and posed a real challenge.

“We’ve got to be switched on this week, otherwise they can pull your pants down pretty quick,” Boyd said.

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!