Former Kiwis coach Graham Lowe's premature National Rugby League (NRL) premiership celebrations has provided the Canberra Raiders with added motivation ahead of their match against the New Zealand Warriors.
The Raiders were advised: "Don't Bother Turning Up" in bold print as local newspaper, the Canberra Times, yesterday relayed Lowe's claim that NRL officials "should save everyone some time and put the Warriors' name on the trophy now".
Lowe, the master motivator, may have done the Warriors a disservice if their bubble bursts here at Aussie Stadium on Saturday (9.30pm NZT).
The Raiders, who have a record of a loss and a win against the Warriors this season, trained yesterday with Lowe's words ringing in their ears.
While the players were not giving any public credence to Lowe's column in an Auckland newspaper on Monday, a spokesman said they were bristling at the belief the Warriors "have the Telstra Cup in the bag and can only lose it".
Lowe believed the current Warriors "are as dominant as any side I have seen since the Broncos' halcyon days of the 1990s. It looked ? as it has looked to me for a couple of months ? like men playing boys.
"The Warriors have such superior natural skill and strength, they are just playing with their opponents in more ways than one."
Canberra coach Matt Elliott was reluctant to fuel the debate about the Warriors were premiers-in-waiting.
"They're a good footy team full of confidence at the moment. . .. we're in for a tough game, so maybe they are.
"I know we're an improved side. I feel a lot more comfortable giving you a comment on our team rather than theirs."
Elliott yesterday named utility Brad Drew as 18th man for the clash although he is still in doubt with a leg injury and will not train until tomorrow.
Drew missed last weekend's 30-18 loss to Melbourne after tearing a hamstring in a round 26 match against defending champions Sydney Roosters.
Elliott said they wouldn't know until later this week whether Drew will be fit to play with a final decision to be made on the day of the game.
Michael Monaghan, who has been troubled by a leg injury, has been picked at five-eighth after he came off the bench to score a try against the Storm.
Terry Martin, who started that game at pivot, has moved back to the bench.Like