NEWCASTLE’S forwards are bracing themselves to withstand a barrage of heavy traffic in Sunday’s clash with Canberra at GIO Stadium.
Experienced back-rower Aidan Guerra had no doubt the Raiders will try to steamroll Newcastle up front, where they will have a significant size advantage through the likes of props Junior Paulo (123kg), Shannon Boyd (122kg) and nine-Test Kangaroo Josh Papalii (112kg).
“They’re a big forward pack, and they’re powerful guys,” Guerra said.
“They probably play off the back of their back five, and then their forwards will come at us on [tackles] three, four and five, and just try and kick down our front door.
“It’s laid the platform for a bit of a challenge for our middles. All our forwards have got to step up.
“We’ve got to try and meet them with their enthusiasm and meet their power. I think it’s a good challenge.”
Guerra said the Canberra forwards “are bigger than just about everyone … they’ve got a couple of big boppers there who are going to be hard, especially when they’re running hard.”
Newcastle may well have to tackle the Raiders minus co-captain Jamie Buhrer, who coach Nathan Brown said was “carrying a bit of a knock” he sustained in last week’s 19-18 win against Manly.
“How doubtful he is, we will probably know more tomorrow," Brown said.
"We named him because we certainly think he's a genuine chance of playing.
“I'd say JB is the one that's most in some sort of doubt. He got through some training today but how he pulls up tomorrow will probably determine that.”
If Buhrer was ruled out, Brown could bring in Luke Yates as a like-for-like replacement, although he may also consider Jacob Saifiti, who would give Newcastle’s bench more size to compete with the Canberra heavyweights.
Brown said nobody at the Knights would underestimate the Raiders, despite last week’s 30-28 upset loss to Gold Coast. "To have 40 per cent possession and score five tries, as many as the opposition, is a pretty fair effort really … I think there was a lot more good in Canberra than the scoreboard suggests,” he said.