Shillington eager to get Raiders to finals

With a NRL deal now secured for 2016, David Shillington’s next goal is to see Canberra past the second week of the playoffs.

The veteran prop has never played in a preliminary final after a decade in first-grade, managing just three semi-final appearances between the Sydney Roosters and Raiders.

His last was in 2012, when Canberra went down 38-16 to South Sydney.

But with Ricky Stuart’s men one win outside the top eight, Shillington wants 2015 to be the year he breaks that duck.

It’s the 32-year-old’s last season in green before his move to the Gold Coast – and he’s motivated more than ever.

“A few weeks ago, I had the pressure on me to get a new contract and then perform and prove my worth,” Shillington said on Tuesday.

“Obviously having signed that now, that pressure’s relieved, but I’ve put pressure on myself to finish the year strongly.

“I’ve been here for a long time and I certainly want to go out on a high note.

“I’ve never made it past the second round, so it’ll be nice to go further than that.

“But at this stage, we need to focus on week-to-week and not look too far ahead.”

Shillington missed the first nine rounds of the season, but has been a standout for the Raiders since his return.

The former State of Origin and Australian Test star racked up a massive 160m in last Friday’s demolition of Newcastle, playing the entire second half.

But he’s expecting a much tougher task against Cronulla at GIO Stadium on Saturday.

“There’ll definitely be a rise in intensity this week against the Sharks,” he said.

“They’ve got a pretty big forward pack with the likes of Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita, Luke Lewis, so it’s a big job for myself and the rest of the (Raiders) pack.

“We’re sitting just outside the eight, and another win here this weekend could put us in the eight – where we want to be.”

The Raiders will be without halfback Sam Williams after a partial pectoral tear ruled him out for up to six weeks.

His absence will be a test for five-eighth Blake Austin, who has lost five from six games without Williams by his side.

Austin has scored 11 tries in the past nine games – including a hat-trick in the first 15 minutes against the Knights.

“The best thing about Sammy is his talk, he’s like a second coach on the field,” prop Paul Vaughan said.

“Blakey can definitely step up and take more of a leadership role.”

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