NRL ladder-leaders Sydney Roosters expect Canberra’s returning star Blake Ferguson to make a statement when they host the Raiders this Saturday.
Outstanding back Ferguson will play for the first time in almost two months after he was stood down by the NRL following a drinking session with NSW Origin squad teammate Josh Dugan.
“He’ll obviously be willing to make a statement for while he has been absent and he’s a massive part of that team,” Roosters winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall said on Wednesday.
“I think the rest of the team will get confident by having him in the side, so we’re definitely going to be careful of him.
“He’s a good player and always tough to tackle and he has actually been playing some pretty good football this year, so he’ll be looking to get straight back to his best and help Canberra in their run to the finals.”
Kenny-Dowall also anticipated the seventh-placed Raiders would be motivated by last week’s embarrassing 68-4 flogging by Melbourne.
“Any team that gets pretty much humiliated like that will bounce back and it will be a massive motivation for them,” Kenny-Dowall said.
Canberra overturned a 16-0 half-time deficit to beat the Roosters 24-22 earlier this season.
“We haven’t (talked about that) but we still remember that for sure,” Kenny-Dowall said.
“They have beaten us once so they are capable of that sort of footy. It’s always tough down there in Canberra. We’ve got them at home this time.
“I think we’re a better team than what we were then.”
With captain Anthony Minichiello injured, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck moves from wing to fullback with Kenny-Dowall shifting from centre to wing.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson has yet to name a replacement captain.
The Roosters have four vice-captains in forwards Boyd Cordner, Jared Waerea-Hargraves and Jake Friend plus halfback Mitchell Pearce.
Kenny-Dowall said all four players had leadership qualities and could potentially captain the side once Minichiello retires.