Woolford returns to the flock

Canberra Raiders captain Simon Woolford makes his return from suspension this weekend to join the Raiders' new halves combination of Jason Smith and Lincoln Withers for the first time.

It's a key combination coach Matt Elliott hopes will give his NRL team more attacking options throughout the 2005 season.

The trio will line up for the first time against Wests Tigers on Saturday night in a trial match at Campbelltown Stadium.

St George Illawarra recruit Withers and former Queensland and Hull playmaker Smith were an impressive halfback-five-eighth combination during last weekend's 26-20 loss to Brisbane and Elliott expects Woolford's addition at hooker will add to the team's attack.

"I think we missed Simon last weekend," Elliott said.

"We lost that running game he provides up the middle of the ruck and I think Lincoln and Jason will enjoy playing outside him."

Woolford served one week of his two-week suspension for a careless high tackle during last year's finals series and the second during the Raiders' first NRL-sanctioned trial match.

Woolford's addition is one of only two changes to the Raiders team that played in Toowoomba last weekend.

Elliott has put more play-making options on his bench, bringing teenage halfback Todd Carney into his 17-man squad.

Apart from the absence of forwards Jason Croker and Tyran Smith - both on suspension - the Raiders will field a near full-strength team on Saturday.

But Elliott has told his players they were still competing for positions.

"There's still plenty of opportunity for people to bubble-up and players will have to perform at their best," he said.

"We've come through the first two trials with a clean bill of health, so there's some pressure on players to make that top 17."

Raiders team to play Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday: Clinton Schifcofske, Phil Graham, Craig Frawley, Adam Mogg, Nathan Smith, Jason Smith, Lincoln Withers, Ian Hindmarsh, Michael Hodgson, Matt Adamson, Troy Thompson, Simon Woolford, Ryan O'Hara. Res: Michael Weyman, Kris Kahler, Alan Tongue, Todd Carney.

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