Josh Papalii is set to start against the Rabbitohs.
Josh Papalii is set to start against the Rabbitohs.

Raiders to scrap Papalii ploy to combat Burgess brothers

CANBERRA are set to start Josh Papalii to combat South Sydney's Burgess brothers in their sold-out NRL preliminary final on Friday night.

Papalii came off the bench in the Raiders' qualifying final victory against Melbourne but Canberra co-captain Jarrod Croker says they'll need their star prop from the opening minute against Souths.

The Green Machine are expecting an emotionally-charged performance from Sam, Tom and George Burgess, who could be playing their final NRL game together.

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"It worked well (against Melbourne) but I don't think we'll be able to hold Papa back this week, especially with the Burgess boys there," Croker said.

"I'd say he'll want to start and be amongst it all from the get go."

Raiders co-captain Josh Hodgson has played for England alongside the Burgess trio and said Souths' inspirational skipper Sam was the man to stop.

"Sam goes about his business the same every single week, he's aggressive, he likes to lead his team from the front," Hodgson said.

Josh Papalii will likely start on Friday night at GIO Stadium.
Josh Papalii will likely start on Friday night at GIO Stadium.

"We saw the difference in the side from when they played the Roosters (without Sam) to Manly.

"The difference in the aggression, the difference in the line speed and everyone really came off the back of him leading the charge.

"They have got a big forward pack and they can get that roll on when they need to.

"You've got to be physical in every single game but especially in these games, it's really important against Tom and George and Sam."

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Croker admitted it was "scary" the Rabbitohs have been playing below their best in recent weeks but have still clawed their way within one win of the grand final under Wayne Bennett.

And the centre backed seven-times premiership coach Bennett to have his men firing on all cylinders for their biggest game of the season.

"They're a good side and coached by one of the best," Croker said.

"The fact they haven't played their best games in the last few weeks and they've made a prelim is a little bit scary to be honest.

"They're going to be a lot better than they have been over the last couple of weeks.

"They're going to play their best game of the year, we know that. We have to be prepared to play ours.

"Just because it's our home game doesn't mean it's just going to happen."

Hodgson echoed the sentiment of Hodgson and declared Souths favourites, despite the bookmakers having Canberra at $1.40 for their biggest home game in club history.

"I don't think we are favourites. It's our first semi in three years so I wouldn't say we're favourites," Hodgson said.

"I'd say they've got more experience in semi-finals.

"The bookies might say it but it's not the case from my point of view."

News Corp Australia

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