CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND — NOVEMBER 18: Siliva Havili of Tonga performs the Sipi Tau prior to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Quarter Final match between Tonga and Lebanon at AMI Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND — NOVEMBER 18: Siliva Havili of Tonga performs the Sipi Tau prior to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup Quarter Final match between Tonga and Lebanon at AMI Stadium on November 18, 2017 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Canberra’s No.9 battle about to heat up

CANBERRA five-eighth Blake Austin has challenged recruits Siliva Havili and Craig Garvey to perform in Saturday's trial against Canterbury to prove they are ready to replace injured hooker Josh Hodgson.

The battle for the Raiders' No. 9 jersey will ramp up this weekend when the Green Machine play the Bulldogs on the Sunshine Coast.

Havili (Dragons) and Garvey (Bulldogs) are locked in a two-way dual to fill in for Hodgson, who won't return until mid-season after suffering an ACL injury during England's World Cup campaign last year.

Havili has played 24 matches for the Warriors and Dragons.
Havili has played 24 matches for the Warriors and Dragons.

Both players have impressed this pre-season, but Austin knows only one man can land the starting role for Canberra's opening round clash against the Titans on the Gold Coast.

"They (Havili and Garvey) are both at a similar stage in there career and it is a very big year for them to play some first grade and make a name for themselves," Austin told The Daily Telegraph.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how they go. They both bring something different, but they'll get to have time behind a very good forward pack that gets on the front foot.

"But they've had all pre-season to fit in with the squad and they've both done their roles."

After reaching the preliminary final against Melbourne in 2016, the Raiders fell back to the pack last season to finish in 10th position.

Ricky Stuart's men were top three in attack, in terms of points scored, but they struggled to win the close matches and it proved costly.

Austin says rediscovering the team's consistency has been a major focus this summer.

Garvey joined the Raiders from Canterbury.
Garvey joined the Raiders from Canterbury.

"We want to get the flow back in our attack and the forwards roll forward is going to be a huge part of that," he said.

"We are planning on really getting the ball in the halves hands this year and hopefully that can bring some positives for the team.

"We really want to right the wrongs of last year and that is what we've been doing in the pre-season."

The Raiders will take on the Bulldogs on Saturday at the Sunshine Coast Stadium from 6pm AEST (5pm local).


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