Canberra are tired of scrapping on the edges of the NRL top eight and plan to take some mid-season heat off by climbing higher into safe territory.
Jarrod Croker wants to take the Raiders on a run starting from Sunday with the skipper believing his side are primed to cause another upset win over Canterbury at GIO Stadium in their first home game in five weeks.
Over the last month, Canberra have played at Bathurst, Kogarah, New Plymouth and had the representative weekend off and head into the match off the back of a comfortable win over the Warriors.
The Raiders sit seventh and will have close to a full-strength side.
Queenslander Josh Papalii (State of Origin) is the only big name missing, with Sia Soliola returning from a broken arm and Shaun Fensom from a shoulder injury.
“We’re in good nick heading into this game,” Croker told AAP.
“We’ve had a good win away from home and we’re back home for two weeks so the boys are ready to go.
“Hopefully we can string a few wins together for the home crowd.”
They sprung a surprise 22-8 victory over the Bulldogs at Belmore in April, but have not defeated them twice in the same season since 2008.
Des Hasler’s men have the recent wood over the Raiders, winning three of their past four matches and all of them in Canberra.
They sit fifth on the ladder, three points ahead of Canberra.
“We’re definitely looking at maintaining and improving our top eight position,” Croker said.
“We don’t want to be hanging around that bottom half of the top eight and just outside where it gets a bit scrappy.
“If we can string a few wins together, starting this week, it’ll definitely help us.”
The Bulldogs will be without stars David Klemmer and Josh Jackson, who are on NSW State of Origin duty, but Croker insists that won’t make them any less dangerous.
Nor will some fired-up Origin hopefuls who missed selection – including his Raiders teammate Blake Austin.
“There’s probably 30 blokes out there that think they’ve been snubbed,” he said.
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Canberra haven’t won back-to-back matches this season since rounds one and two
* The Bulldogs have won five of their first six away games in 2016, their best result on the road since 2002
* Jason Croker needs just one try to break clear of Laurie Daley as the Raiders’ third-highest leading tryscorer
(Source: Fox Sports Stats)