Canberra’s young forwards admit feeling added pressure with new arrival Junior Paulo set to make his Raiders debut as early as Friday night’s NRL clash with Manly.
The sixth-placed Raiders are hopeful Paulo’s contract for the rest of the season will be ratified by Tuesday, less than 48 hours after Parramatta granted the rising star a release.
The 22-year-old wasted no time in introducing himself to soon-to-be teammates, joining them in the sheds after Sunday’s 32-20 win over Canterbury at GIO Stadium.
Coach Ricky Stuart suggested Paulo’s arrival would give him the chance to rest some of his younger players, namely in-form forwards Luke Bateman and Joseph Tapine.
Both were impressive off the bench in the come-from-behind victory over the Bulldogs, with Tapine scoring two tries.
“A rest is probably not too important for me at the moment … but whatever Sticky (Stuart) and the assistant coaches think is best for the team I’m more than happy with that,” Bateman said.
“It definitely puts a lot of pressure on me to play good footy, especially being a young bloke without a cemented spot in the team.
“And that’s good for me and the team. If everyone’s got competition then everyone’s going to be playing well.”
Former Newcastle Knight Tapine, whose minutes and performances have been on the rise in recent weeks, admitted it would be harder to hold his place.
“You definitely think about whether you’re going to be in the team next week, especially with a quality player like him coming into the side,” he said.
“All you’ve got to do is keep playing and hope for the best.”
There’s a chance, however, both could keep their spots if coach Ricky Stuart opts to rest Queensland enforcer Josh Papalii after playing for Queensland in Wednesday’s State of Origin opener.
Winger Edrick Lee remains in doubt for the battle with the Sea Eagles at GIO Stadium after hurting his hamstring against the Bulldogs.