CANBERRA have signalled their intention to smash the life out of former teammate Todd Carney to limit his influence in today’s elimination final.
The Sharks match-winner can expect to walk off Canberra Stadium battered and bruised as the Raiders attempt to find a way to contain the brilliant playmaker. Carney has already hurt the Raiders once this season, carving up his former side with a virtuoso display in the round-eight 44-22 flogging in Canberra.
To prevent that happening again, injured Raiders captain Terry Campese warned Carney would be in for a busy afternoon whenever he looked to get into the play. ”If we can shut him down, give him less time and knock him down every time he touches the ball, that will put a lot of pressure on him,” Campese said ”Hopefully he doesn’t have the game like he did last time he was here.
”When you give a guy that kind of confidence during the game, that’s what he builds his game on.”
Carney has a 3-2 record against the Raiders since he was sacked in 2008 for a string of off-field indiscretions, before he also parted ways with the Roosters last year.
He has found a new lease of life with the Sharks, the talented five-eighth establishing himself as the NSW No.6 and guiding the Sharks to the finals for the first time since 2008. Campese caught up with his former halves partner at the Dally M awards in Sydney during the week, Carney more than happy to divulge how he planned to cut the Raiders to pieces. ”Talking to Toddy during the Dally Ms he made it obvious where he will personally attack us – in the forwards,” Campese said. ”He always seems to target our big forwards.
”He’s got good footwork at the line, and when we get a bit tired that’s when he seems to get his hands on the ball and takes us on.”
Campese believed the opening 20 minutes would be a fiery contest as both sets of forwards tried to gain the upper hand. Sharks captain Paul Gallen has challenged his pack to lift its aggression after being outmuscled in recent weeks.
Raiders coach David Furner has backed Sam Williams to withstand the physical intensity of finals football after he was cleared to return from injury for today’s do-or-die semi against Cronulla.
The halfback missed last week’s win over the Warriors in Auckland with a strained trapezius muscle in his left shoulder, but passed a searching examination at a training session yesterday.
Williams has been pivotal in helping the Raiders defy the odds by making the finals without chief playmaker Campese. Furner knows Cronulla’s hard as nails pack will test out Williams in defence, but said he wouldn’t play the 21-year-old unless he was fully fit.
”He’s fine and ticked all the boxes, he’ll be ready to go,” Furner said.
”He’ll be able to handle it, I have no doubt. I think Sammy knows what’s coming his way and previously before missing that [Warriors] game, he’s defended quite well.”
Williams’s developing combination with five-eighth Josh McCrone has risen another level late this season.
Raiders fullback Josh Dugan is also a certain starter after missing the Warriors clash with an ankle injury.
Forwards Joel Thompson [back injury] and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs [hamstring] have also been given the green light.
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