Fone Zone Canberra Raiders coach, Matthew Elliott, has resisted making changes to his team, despite their lacklustre showing against the Sea Eagles in Sydney last Sunday.
Michael Hodgson is the only omission from the team that lost at Brookvale, the back-rower spending Sunday night in hospital after suffering a punctured lung during the Raiders 36-22 loss.
Hodgson will spend the next 3-4 weeks on the sidelines and could be joined by one or more of his team-mates this weekend, pending the result of fitness tests later in the week.
Michael Robertson (hamstring), Matthew Gafa (quad), Troy Thompson (calf) and Joel Monaghan (calf), are all under a fitness cloud heading in to Saturday night?s vital clash with ninth-placed Newcastle.
The Raiders are currently clinging to eighth position, and in need of a victory to avoid a late-season scrap to clinch a finals berth.
?I?m not going to focus too much on our performance last weekend,? said Elliott.
?We spoke about it (the loss) yesterday and we now need to look forward and focus on coming up with the right performances over the next few weeks.?
?I had planned for a fairly heavy ball-work session today, but with a few guys unable to train."
"It forced us inside for a weights session,? he said.
?Its not a great situation (having players unable to train) but every team is dealing with a similar scenario at this late stage of the season,? he added.
?Joel?s situation (calf) has certainly improved on yesterday so I?m fairly optimistic he will be OK to play,? he said.
?Matty Gafa?s probably the opposite (to Joel) in that his (quad) is a little worse than at first thought.?
The injured brigade will be given until Friday to prove their fitness for the match, which will temporarily decide eighth-position on the NRL ladder.
Telstra Premiership Round 22 7.30pm, Saturday 7 August, 2004 Energy Australia Stadium
Coach: Matthew Elliott
1. Clinton Schifcofske 2. Nathan Smith 3. Adam Mogg 4. Joel Monaghan 5. Michael Robertson 6. Matthew Gafa 7. Mark McLinden 8. Ryan O'Hara 9. Simon Woolford (c) 10. Luke Davico 11. Ruben Wiki 12. Ian Hindmarsh 13. Jason Croker
14. Troy Thompson 15. Michael Weyman 16. Josh Miller 17. Tyran Smith 18. Jason Bulgarelli