Raiders expect Broncos to test Santo

By day, Zac Santo plies his trade as a teacher’s aide.

But on Thursday night, he might be taught a few lessons by NRL heavyweights Brisbane in his debut for Canberra.

The clash at Suncorp Stadium will be Santo’s first first-grade appearance since July 5, 2014, when he played his one and only match for North Queensland as a hooker off the bench.

He has been called in to replace suspended youngster Jack Wighton at fullback, following solid performances for NSW Cup’s ladder-leading Mounties.

He also made an appearance at this year’s Auckland Nines and Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker is confident he’ll be up to the task.

“Zac is a quiet fella, but he’s a talented footballer,” Croker said on Wednesday.

“His acceleration off the mark is pretty exciting, so I’m looking forward to seeing him hopefully in a bit of space.

“We saw little bits of what he can do there at the Nines and how nippy and quick he is.

“(The Broncos) will probably test him but he’ll be fine.”

Santo is on the Raiders’ full-time training squad, but is studying to become a school teacher.

On his day off, he is doing work placement at Latham Primary School, in Canberra’s north, as a teacher’s aide.

His story is not too different to unknown prop Clay Priest, who was fixing power lines for a living before being handed his debut against Wests Tigers in April.

“It makes a few of us realise how tough it can be and how much hard work does pay off,” added Croker.

“Those guys are probably two really good examples of that.

“It’s good to see them take their opportunities. Someone like Priesty, he’s keeping other guys out of the side.”

Priest has kept his spot on the bench for the match, while in-form youngster Luke Bateman retains the No.13 jersey with veteran lock Shaun Fensom missing out on selection.

Prop Paul Vaughan has been recalled to replace Shannon Boyd, who is serving a one-match ban for a shoulder charge.

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