Wests Tigers will be looking to secure a crucial two points as they take on the Canberra Raiders this Friday night in what will be the club's first home game at the new Bankwest Stadium.
Fresh after the Round 12 bye, Michael Maguire's side will face a tough test against a Canberra side in form and playing good football in season 2019, but question marks still surround how the two sides will back up with their Origin commitments.
Wests Tigers captain Moses Mbye and forward Ryan Matterson look set to back up for the side after playing a total of eight minutes together on Wednesday night — Matterson was unused as 18th Man while Mbye came off the bench — but there are more questions for Canberra with three players all featuring during the game.
Jack Wighton came off the bench for the Blues and looks likely to back up, while Josh Papalii should be right to play despite big minutes for Queensland.
The major concern to come from the match is that of Nick Cotric, who finished the game but was hampered by a knee injury throughout. He will undergo scans on Thursday but is expected to play as Canberra seek to make it four wins in a row over Wests Tigers in Sydney — a streak dating back to Round 16, 2014.
Aside from the pending inclusion of the various Origin players, the other big team news to note for Wests Tigers is the return of inspirational forward Chris Lawrence, who will play his first NRL game this year following a horrific pre-season injury.
Maguire: Lawrence will play
Lawrence will come in to the side after being confirmed to return by Maguire, but his position is not yet clear with team lists to be updated closer to kickoff.
What is clear is the return of David Nofoaluma after a strong showing against the Rabbitohs prior to last week's bye. The Campbelltown junior will play on the wing and Mahe Fonua in the centres after Maguire updated his side on Thursday.
For the Raiders, Jordan Rapana returns from a knee injury on the wing, while Emre Guler comes on the bench with Hudson Young and Corey Horesburgh both out.
Fresh off a man-of-the-match effort against the Bulldogs in Round 12, Raiders fullback Charne Nicoll-Klokstad certainly looms as a danger player to watch for Wests Tigers, with the 23-year-old sitting fifth in the league for total runs (223), first in kick return meters (763 metres) and second in run meters (2097 metres).
Friday's game will see Benji Marshall play his 296th first-grade game as he closes in on the elusive NRL 300 club, while Robbie Farah (currently 293 career games) and Ben Matulino (246 career games) also approach their respective milestones.
Remarkably, in his 19 games against the Raiders, Marshall has won 18 times.
Wests Tigers head into this week's clash as last-start winners against the Raiders after winning a tight 22-20 tussle when they met in Round 22 last year.
NRL.com preview Raiders clash
Date — Friday, June 7, 2019
Time — 7:55pm AEST
Venue — Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
TV, RADIO AND LIVE STREAM INFORMATION
TV — Live via Channel 9 and FOX League (Ch.502)
Radio — AM 702 ABC Grandstand, AM 873 2GB
Live Stream — 9NOW, Foxtel Go, KAYO, NRL Digital Pass and Watch NRL (int.)
LATEST TEAM NEWS
Wests Tigers — Moses Mbye and Ryan Matterson will be right to go after getting through their State of Origin commitments on Wendesday while David Nofoaluma and Mahe Fonua return in place of Robert Jennings and Paul Momirovski.
Canberra Raiders — Nick Cotric is having scans to determine the full extent of his knee injury experienced during Origin. Michael Oldfield remains in the squad as cover, while Jordan Rapana will return from injury on the wing. Josh Papalii and Jack Wighton have been cleared to return after playing in Origin on Wednesday.
Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Moses MbyeFullback for Raiders is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Corey ThompsonWinger for Raiders is number 2 Bailey Simonsson
Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Esan MarstersCentre for Raiders is number 3 Jarrod Croker
Centre for Wests Tigers is number 21 Mahe FonuaCentre for Raiders is number 4 Nick Cotric
Winger for Wests Tigers is number 18 David NofoalumaWinger for Raiders is number 5 Jordan Rapana
Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Benji MarshallFive-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack Wighton
Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke BrooksHalfback for Raiders is number 18 Aidan Sezer
Prop for Wests Tigers is number 8 Ben MatulinoProp for Raiders is number 16 Iosia Soliola
Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Robbie FarahHooker for Raiders is number 9 Siliva Havili
Prop for Wests Tigers is number 10 Alex TwalProp for Raiders is number 17 Ryan Sutton
2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Ryan Matterson2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 John Bateman
2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 17 Michael Chee-Kam2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Matthew EisenhuthLock for Raiders is number 13 Joseph Tapine
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Jacob LiddleInterchange for Raiders is number 8 Josh Papalii
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Thomas MikaeleInterchange for Raiders is number 10 Dunamis Lui
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Josh AloiaiInterchange for Raiders is number 14 Tom Starling
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 20 Chris LawrenceInterchange for Raiders is number 15 Emre Guler
- Referee: Matt Cecchin
- Referee: Adam Cassidy
- Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
- Touch Judge: Nick Morel
- Video Referee: Beau Scott
- Senior Review Official: Jared Maxwell
LATEST NEDS ODDS
H2H — Wests Tigers ($1.90), Canberra Raiders ($1.90),
Total Points — Over 37.5 points ($1.88), Under 37.5 points ($1.88)
Overall — Played 35, Wests Tigers 19, Canberra Raiders 16
Last Time They Met — Wests Tigers 22 def. Canberra Raiders 20 (Rd.22, 2018)
Match Referees — Matt Cecchin and Adam Cassidy
Touch Judges — Liam Kennedy and Nick Morel
Review Officials — Beau Scott and Jared Maxwell