the Canberra Raiders are home for Cronulla sharks in the first round of the 2022 NRL season tonight. To rejoin the roar for live scores and commentary from 6:00 p.m. AEDT.
With both teams having had dissatisfied 2021 seasons, the Raiders and Sharks enter a new campaign with high hopes and serious claims of a top-eight finish at the end of the season.
Ricky Stuart’s Canberra side go into their season opener with injury troubles and a club legend seemingly out of favor, while the Sharks have been replenished impressively in the offseason and new manager Craig Fitzgibbon will lick his lips at the opportunity to prove his credentials at the elite level.
Canberra enter their season opener under immense pressure on Jack Wighton and his young and inexperienced back line, and will potentially rely on a proven and powerful pack led by Josh Papalii and Josh Hodgson.
James Schiller is a surprise selection at center for the Raiders with Jarrod Croker on the extended bench set to force his return to the squad after knee surgery. England striker Ryan Sutton, who is expected to sign a deal with Canterbury, has also been selected from the reserves.
Xavier Savage has surprisingly been overlooked despite stellar tryout form while former Bulldogs forward Adam Elliott will make his Raiders debut via trade.
Another centre, Sebastian Kris, is unavailable for the selection list as he is on the club’s COVID isolation list. Brad Schneider will make his fullback debut after Titans rookie Jamal Fogarty suffered a serious knee injury during the trial against Manly.
Jack Wighton will be playing his 200th NRL game for the Raiders.
With Connor Tracey (groin) ruled out for the Sharks, Ronaldo Mulitalo has moved into the centers with former Roosters speedster Matt Ikuvalu on the wing. Matt Moylan will make his first appearance for 2022 in the halves alongside new signing Nicho Hynes.
Sharks fans will be extremely eager to see Nicholas Hynes and Dale Finucane in club colours: hoping they add some starch and class to a team desperate for a return to the Finals.
It looks like a compelling first-round game and the Sharks will be hoping Matt Moylan and Hynes will prove the difference. The Raiders could play well in the middle and look to physically dominate in the nation’s capital.
The bookmakers find it hard to split and it’s not hard to see why.
Two teams outside the eight in 2021 have their sights set on something very different this season.
Home advantage might just prove the difference in this game, with the Raiders forwards taking them across the line in what looks like a close battle on paper.
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. James Schiller 4. Matthew Timoko 5. Semi Valemei 6. Jack Wighton 7. Brad Schneider 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Corey Harawira-Naera 13. Elliott Whitehead
Exchange: 14. Tom Starling 15. Emre Guler 16. Adam Elliott 17. Corey Horsburgh 18. Ryan Sutton 19. Matt Frawley 20. Trey Mooney 21. Harry Rushton 22. Jarrod Croker
1.William Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. jesse ramien 4. Ronaldo Mulitalo 5. Matt Ikuvalu 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey ten. Braden Hamlin Uele 11. British Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Dale Finucane
Exchange: 14. Aiden Tolman 15. Siosifa Talakai 16. Royce Hunt 17. Andre Fita 18. Luke Metcalf 19. Jesse Colquhoun 20. Lachlan Miller 21. Jenson Burnskin 22. Jayden Berrel