The Raiders have emerged as unlikely beneficiaries of ASADA’s ban on 10 NRL players with Sharks Paul Gallen and Anthony Tupou out of Sunday’s game.
Canberra are set to be the unlikely beneficiaries of the near conclusion to the 18-month ASADA investigation into the NRL, with the Raiders to face a decimated Sharks in Sunday’s wooden spoon playoff.
The loser of the Remondis Stadium round 24 showdown between the NRL’s last placed teams is likely to end up with rugby league’s most unwanted silverware in 2014.
And Ricky Stuart’s Raiders will face a Sharks side minus inspirational skipper Paul Gallen and fellow back-rower Anthony Tupou after the duo accepted back-dated 12-month bans from ASADA on Friday that will rule them out of football until late November.
Sione Masima, named as 18th man by interim Sharks coach James Shepherd will likely come into the side alongside NSW Cup player Patrice Siolo.
The two other Sharks caught up in the ASADA drama Wade Graham and Nathan Gardner will miss the match with the Raiders due to injury.
Newcastle will be without banned duo Kade Snowden and Jeremy Smith for the Suncorp Stadium clash with Brisbane on Saturday.
Knights coach Wayne Bennett has confirmed Adam Cuthbertson and Joseph Tapine will come into the visitor’s side.
Curtis Rona is the probable inclusion for banned North Queensland centre-three-quarter Matthew Wright for their match with premiership favourites South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
Also suspended by ASADA, Gold Coast prop Luke Douglas will miss their trip to Kogarah Oval to meet St George Illawarra on Sunday.
Titans playmaker Albert Kelly has also copped a doping ban but he was named to play Queensland Cup.
Douglas’ spot in the Titans side will likely be filled by Tom Kingston, who was named as 18th man by interim coach Neil Henry earlier this week.