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NRL Preview - Sharks v Raiders

On the back of three wins in succession and after victories from each of their four previous games in the national capital, the Sharks head to Canberra undaunted by the road trip but realising Sunday's game will present a formidable challenge.

Jayson Bukuya was the latest withdrawal due to the illness which kept him out of the game against the Eels, with the back rower joining the likes of Wade Graham, Josh Dugan and Luke Lewis on the sidelines.

Skipper Paul Gallen will head down to the Canberra with the team following the Captain's Run training session today, with a decision on his status to be deferred until game day.

Sharks coach Shane Flanagan addressed the issue of his injured brigade and when they might be able to return, but was adamant no player would be risked unless he was 100 per cent fit.

"We don't want to push them and while its a really important time of the year, there's a lot of games to be played and we need to make sure they're available for the majority of the games, not push them back for one or two then they're out," Flanagan said.

With Bukuya now missing from the team named on Tuesday, it opens the door for former Canberra junior Jack Williams to make his NRL debut, with the lock/second rower to become the 521st Sharks NRL player.

Joseph Paulo is likely to come into the starting side for Bukuya, with Williams also in line to play the left edge position should Flanagan prefer to go in that direction.

Rookie back rower Briton Nikora, along with props Kurt Dillon and Braden Uele, will all come into contention for the final spot in the Sharks squad.

While the impact the interchange and the youngsters can have on the match will be important, so to will the performances of the likes of Andrew Fifita and Matt Prior, especially against a physically imposing Raiders pack.

Fifita in particular, after thinking his season might be over when he injured a knee against the Dragons, has since taken on a leadership role in the absence of his more experienced teammates, with the intentional front rower again be critical to the Sharks chances of success.

"He's in a good place at the moment. He's doing a great job for us," Flanagan said.

As for the Raiders, their recent form is much improved after four losses to begin their 2018 season, with wins at their last two starts having them on the cusp of the top eight.

"They had a tough start," Flanagan said. "They're key players have played really well the last couple of weeks. They're back five have done a really good job, that's they're strength.

"If you let they'e back five start their sets really well, you're going to be in trouble."

With the weather having turned and cold conditions set to greet the two teams tomorrow afternoon, the frigid temperatures might create another challenge for the visiting Sharks, however as the coach explains, it will be the same for both teams and they will deal with whatever mother nature throws up.

"We've had a bit of success down there, its Sunday afternoon and its not going to be that cold," Flanagan said.

"They've got to play under the same circumstances as well. They might be more used to it, but we've just got ti get on with it."

And get on with it they will, with the Sharks and Raiders match, which is a part of the NRL's Indigenous Round, scheduled for a 4.10pm kickoff at GIO Stadium.

The Sharks 19-man squad is listed below, with the Sharks to trim that down to 17 one hour before kick off on Sunday.

SHARKS Team List

1 Valentine Holmes

2 Sosaia Feki
3 Jesse Ramien
4 Ricky Läutete
5 Edrick Lee
6 Matt Moylan
7 Chad Townsend

8 Andrew Fifita 

9 Jayden Brailey 

10 Matt Prior

11 Kurt Capewell
14 Joseph Paulo

13 Paul Gallen (c) 

Interchange 

15 James Segeyaro

16 Ava Seumanufagai
17 Jack Williams 

18 Kurt Dillon

19 Braden Uele 

20 Briton Nikora

Tale of the Tape

Head to Head 

Played 69

Sharks 37 wins

Canberra 32 wins

At GIO Stadium

Played 27

Sharks 13 wins

Canberra 14 wins

Past eight matches

Sharks 4 wins

Canberra 4 wins

Biggest margins

Sharks 44 Canberra 5, Seifert Oval, 1982

Canberra 56 Sharks 12, Bruce Stadium, 1994