David Nofoaluma and Jack Wighton will close-out the regular season by going head-to-head in what is shaping up to be a thrilling encounter at Leichhardt Oval.
Both players will don the number one jersey for their respective sides, with Wests Tigers hoping to book a place in the finals with a victory, while the Raiders could have the opportunity to move into second on the ladder.
Nofoaluma played his first NRL game starting at fullback last weekend against the Warriors, with the Campbelltown junior making 140 metres, one line-break and seven tackle busts in the 36-24 victory.
The 22-year-old will most likely share the custodian role once more with Tim Simona while Jordan Rankin moves to hooker, however the powerful runner looked right at home last weekend filling in for James Tedesco.
Wighton has become a key part of a dangerous attacking backline at the Raiders, linking up well with the likes of Joseph Leilua, Jarrod Croker, Edrick Lee and Jordan Rapana on the edges.
While the Orange CYMS junior has only crossed for eight tries this season, he has set up another 12 for his teammates, with his ball-playing ability set to be a focus for Wests Tigers defenders this week.
Wests Tigers Members and fans are set to pack Leichhardt Oval this Sunday afternoon and are sure to be entertained by match-ups such as this one, while also cheering on their side in a game that could secure them a place in the finals for the first time since 2011.
Nofoaluma and Wighton have met four times previously on an NRL level, with the Wests Tigers flyer winning three of those clashes.
Nofoaluma has scored three tries against the Raiders, including a double in his side’s 2014 narrow 19-18 win at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
On the other hand, Wighton has faced Wests Tigers on seven occasions in total, winning four and losing three.
Most improved contender…
There’s no doubting that this has been Nofoaluma’s best season yet.
Managing to play every game bar one in 2016, the Campbelltown-flyer has crossed for 14 tries and is averaging over 134 meters per game.
Before this season, the most games Nofoaluma had played in one season was 15; which he achieved in his debut year in 2013 and again in the following year.
Look out for a big game from Nofoaluma, who certainly knows his way across the try line at Leichhardt, scoring nine tries in as many games at the ground.
Wighton guides Raiders home…
Wighton played a key role in helping Canberra to their ninth consecutive win last week, scoring a try in his side’s 44-30 win over Manly-Warringah at Brookvale.
The 23-year-old made 184 metres against the Sea Eagles, his most since Round 10 against St. George Illawarra when he made a whopping 230 metres.
The evasive fullback will have to be at his best again this week, especially in the absence of playmaker Blake Austin, if the Raiders are to record their 10th straight win.
What he said…
"Teddy [James Tedesco] is our fullback," David Nofoaluma said. "I'm just doing my part and doing my best to fill in for him.
"As soon as he's right to come back from injury, he'll be straight in there.
"It'd be lovely to have him back from injury this week, but I'm not sure where he's at; I'm sure he'll definitely be doing everything possible to get back as soon as he can.
"It's going to be very exciting this Sunday at Leichhardt and that's something we're really focussed on.
"We're looking forward to a great crowd out there as well.
"I haven't been in the position before to be competing for the finals, but we've got a role to do first and foremost and that's to take care of the Raiders on Sunday."