The Canberra Raiders are expecting Wests Tigers to come down the Hume Highway with a siege mentality after the joint venture has been embroiled in controversy.
Both teams are coming off big losses on the weekend – the Raiders going down 42-16 to Cronulla, while Penrith flogged Wests 36-2.
But the Tigers have also had to deal with the ongoing Tim Simona saga, that’s included the NRL deregistering the Wests centre for betting on matches he was involved in.
Wighton expected the saga would have unified the Tigers camp ahead of the round-three clash.
“They’ll be coming down here firing. They’ve got a competitive team and it doesn’t matter what’s going on in camp they’re still going to be strong and that’s the way we’re going to look at it – as we would be if something was going wrong in our camp,” he said.
“You stick together and I’m sure they’ll be doing that and going to come down and be ready for a good battle.”
Green Machine lock Luke Bateman agreed.
“When a lot of criticism comes out and you have your backs up against the wall sometimes it works in your favour and they play a bit better because they really want to prove a point,” he said.
“They’ll definitely be coming down here preparing for a game especially after losing on the weekend.
“No one wants to lose back-to-back. They’ll definitely be prepared to put in a massive effort, we’ll expect no less.”
He felt Wests had shown “a little bit more cohesion” so far this season given they beat South Sydney 34-18 in the opening round.
The Raiders were yet to taste victory this campaign and were licking their wounds following the big loss to the Sharks.
It makes the Wests game even more important, given the Green Machine have to travel to Queensland to face the Brisbane Broncos on a short turnaround the following week and host the top-of-the-table Parramatta Eels after that.
“We’ve got this game this weekend into a five-day turnaround against the Broncos so this is massive for us, getting the win,” Bateman said.
“It’s only early in the season, but still you’ve got to get wins on the board and losing this weekend it would put a massive [dent] not only into the start of our season but come round 26 losing this weekend could end up the difference come the back end of the year. It’s really important for us.”
AT A GLANCE
Sunday: Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers at Canberra Stadium, 4pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.
Raiders squad: 1. Jack Wighton, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (c), 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Josh Hodgson, 10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Josh Papalii, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Luke Bateman. Interchange: 14. Adam Clydsdale, 15. Sia Soliola, 16. Clay Priest, 17. Dave Taylor. Reserves: 18. Jordan Turner, 19. Dunamis Lui, 20. Jeff Lima, 21. Scott Sorensen.
Tigers squad: 1. James Tedesco, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Kevin Naiqama, 4. Michael Chee-Kam, 5. Moses Suli, 6. Mitchell Moses, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Aaron Woods (c), 9. Matt McIlwrick, 10. Ava Seumanufagai, 11. Sausao Sue, 12. Chris Lawrence, 13. Elijah Taylor. Interchange: 14. Tim Grant, 15. Josh Aloiai, 16. Joel Edwards, 17. Jack Littlejohn. Reserves: 18. Junior Tatola, 19. Justin Hunt, 20. Kyle Lovett, 21. Matt Ballin.
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