Canberra coach Ricky Stuart is unlikely to rest any of his players in Sunday’s crunch NRL clash against the Wests Tigers after giving his team a three-day break earlier this week.
Stuart caused a stir following last week’s win over Manly – the team’s ninth in a row – after admitting he would consider sitting players out in preparation for the upcoming finals series.
However the coaching staff have since lightened the players’ training load right off over the first part of this week, with their first field session coming on Thursday.
“It’s a good break from the last game we had. He did gave us a couple of days off so we can freshen up for today’s session,” centre Joey Leilua told reporters on Thursday.
“I think it’s our longest break this year. It’s good for us to freshen up our legs for this game coming up and coming into the finals as well.”
Skipper Jarrod Croker said the squad should be well recovered following their break.
“We’ll get a short, sharp session in today and have tomorrow to travel. We want to build momentum. The boys should be nice and fresh from the couple of days we have off,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone would be putting their hand up to have a rest, put it that way. I know I won’t be.
“I’ve played a couple of games at Leichhardt on Sunday afternoon, sun shining and a full house, they’re the games you want to play in,” he said.
The third-placed Raiders will be keen observers of the Melbourne-Cronulla match on Saturday, with a Sharks loss opening the door for Canberra to steal second spot and a home final.
However a Sharks win would leave the Raiders simply playing for momentum against a Tigers side relying on Gold Coast losing against North Queensland to keep their finals hopes alive.
“We’re in a position where it doesn’t really affect us as much as it does a couple of other sides. It’s not the be-all and end-all,” Croker said.
“Regardless of where we play next week, we’re going to be firing and ready to go. We just want to go out there and win on Sunday and keep the momentum going.”
Five-eighth Blake Austin has begun rehab on his hand after a successful surgery last week, while prop Junior Paulo is on track for a return in week one of the finals.