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Hefty Raiders Fancy Their Chances
A strict programme designed to bulk up the players is paying dividends with captain Simon Woolford saying the physical transformation was obvious when they viewed videos from early season matches.
"We'd come in and do our review and it was there for everyone to see - how we dominated and bashed the opposition," Woolford said before his team headed to Auckland for Sunday's clash with the New Zealand Warriors.
"It's consistently happened and it definitely feels good being on the giving end rather than the receiving end."
According to figures from the start of this year compared with the 2001 season, when they finished 11th, every Raider who played the Broncos last week had either increased or maintained his weight.
Collectively, the first grade squad have increased 66kg, although former Kiwis second rower Tyran Smith has been told to keep his weight at 110kg.
Smith's compatriot Ruben Wiki has been one of the biggest movers - adding 10kg to tip the scales at 108kg.
Former ragdoll five-eighth Mark McLinden has bulked up from 78kg to 86kg, fullback Clinton Schifcofske up from 85kg to 92kg while winger Jamaal Lolesi has jumped from 80kg to 88kg.
During the off-season at the end of 2001 Canberra players had their training regime overhauled by conditioner Carl Jennings to improve the physical side.
A key aspect was lessening the amount of running, usually a prerequisite in the lead-up to a new season.
"We're definitely stronger. While the weight fluctuates there is no doubt our players are stronger and more physically capable," said coach Matthew Elliot.
The contrast has not been missed by former Raiders' players who like what they see in 2003.
"Their presence is intimidating," said former front rower Paul Osborne.
"One of the Warriors told Ruben Wiki after they played a few weeks ago that they'd never been bashed up like that before. Coming from them, that's a big rap."