Young Raiders centre Matt Allwood will make his NRL debut for the Raiders in departed star Blake Ferguson’s old position.
New Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has named two debutants to take on North Queensland in their NRL season opener on Saturday, with Matt Allwood given the task of filling the boots of sacked star centre Blake Ferguson.
Allwood, 21, slots into a re-jigged backline courtesy of a Stuart shake-up, with Jack Wighton confirmed to make his first start at five-eighth.
“(Allwood) has got a lot of speed, he’s defensively very strong and he’s worked hard over the off-season,” Stuart said.
The rejig means skipper Terry Campese will now don the No.7 jersey, while 2013 Mal Meninga Medallist Anthony Milford will retain his fullback duties.
Winger Edrick Lee has been named to make his first game back since breaking his arm last year, while Reece Robinson has scored the other wing spot.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old prop Shannon Boyd has been named on the bench to make his debut following injuries to frontline props David Shillington and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs.
Stuart admitted the rookie would face a a huge challenge when he lined up against Kangaroos props James Tamou and Matt Scott.
“It is a big task. We’re playing against three or four world-class players in this Cowboys team,” Stuart said.
“But I wouldn’t put them in if I wasn’t confident in them.”
Halfback-turned-hooker Josh McCrone has been named on the bench behind No.9 Glen Buttriss, with Stuart confirming McCrone would come onto the field in the hooker role.
Raiders: Anthony Milford, Reece Robinson, Jarrod Croker, Matt Allwood, Edrick Lee, Jack Wighton, Terry Campese (capt), Dane Tilse, Glen Buttriss, Brett White, Josh Papalii, Joel Edwards, Shaun Fensom. Interchange: Josh McCrone, Jarrad Kennedy, Paul Vaughan, Shannon Boyd, Mark Nicholls (18th man).