NRL: History against the Warriors in Canberra

By Michael Brown

Kevin Locke of the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.
Kevin Locke of the Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.

Canberra Stadium is little different to any other ground in the NRL.

It carries the same dimensions, has stands on either side and a capacity of 25,000 people. It's also a place the Warriors can't seem to win.

They've done it only once in their history, and that was in 1997 in the Super League era when they triumphed 34-21 thanks to tries to Bryan Henare, Sean Hoppe, Stacey Jones, Stephen Kearney and Iva Ropati and five Marc Ellis goals and a field goal.

It is their only win in 10 visits, although they won at Manuka Oval in 2001.

The Warriors take on the Raiders at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night hoping to overcome history and a slow start to their season. In some respects, they have as good a chance as they have ever had considering the personnel in their coaching staff.

Head coach Matt Elliott coached the Raiders from 2001-2006; assistant coach McFadden played for them 76 times (1997-2001) and was assistant coach (2010-2012); head strength and conditioning coach Carl Jennings had the same role with Canberra from 2001-2006; and Ruben Wiki played 225 of his 312 NRL games for the Raiders from 1993-2004.

The Raiders go into the match having won both of their home games this season, including an impressive 24-22 come-from-behind win over the Roosters last weekend, and they are also buoyed by the return of influential five-eighth Terry Campese who has missed most of the last 12 months with a serious knee injury.

The Warriors aren't the only team to struggle in the Australian captain - the Raiders won 17-straight games at home between August 1993 and April 1995 - and Elliott has an inkling into why.

"The cold,'' he said. "It's a different sort of cold. It's dry cold. It's the sort of place if you put enough jumpers on you're not cold any more. I have lived in the north of England before and that's cold. It's like Crocodile Dundee - that's not a knife, this is a knife - but it's cold for everyone else. You go there and it's cold.''

Saturday is forecast to be warm and sunny with a high of 26 degrees but the temperatures are expected to drop to around seven degrees at night. It's not something that should unduly affect the Warriors players who can face cold temperatures playing in Auckland.

Their poor record in Canberra is something the Warriors have talked about this week.

"We have discussed it and discussed the record and it's a really great opportunity for us to get together as a team,'' Elliott said. "It's a two-day trip for us. We are going to make sure we take advantage of it and enjoy each others company and build our energy because we are going to need it.

"I'm not going to overtalk about the venue because I don't see that as an inhibiting factor for us and if we do we are just firing excuses at you.''

The Warriors have improved drastically over the past couple of weeks, which saw them beat the Cowboys (20-18) before a narrow defeat to Souths (24-22). They played with more application and fluency and are getting closer to being able to field a full-strength side.

Centre Dane Nielsen (ribs) and utility Ben Henry (concussion) both return from injury on Saturday but they will probably be without prop Jacob Lillyman (ankle) and utility Elijah Taylor (ribs).

Warriors side to play the Raiders at Canberra Stadium on Saturday (9.30pm): Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou/Ngani Laumape, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Russell Packer, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Ben Matulino, Pita Godinet, Ben Henry, Sebastine Ikahihifo.

- APNZ

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