The Raiders will welcome the Penrith Panthers to the nation’s capital for the first time in four years – where an increasingly heated recent rivalry will come to the fore once again.
Since the Panthers last visited GIO Stadium in 2018, tensions between the two sides have ratcheted up multiple levels thanks to a series of incidents, from Panthers fans mocking the Green Machine’s famous Viking Clap on Penrith soil, to the heated failures after Raiders prop Joe Tapine was caught in the middle of a Panthers try celebration.
Now both sides are ready to summarize what has become one of the most fierce showdowns in the past two seasons, with plenty on the line for both sides.
According to Nine, an unnamed senior Canberra staff member declared the club had been waiting for this match all season – and are out to ‘ambush’ a Panthers side they labeled ‘arrogant’.
“We don’t like their attitude – plain and simple,” the senior Raiders official said.
“We have been waiting for this game and are planning an ambush.
“They are arrogant and we aim to bring them down a few pegs.”
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But it’s not just the home side who is fired up for the clash against ladder-leading Penrith, needing to bounce back from a defeat to Parramatta but missing Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai.
Panthers hooker Api Koroisau said his side was more than ready for the heat coming their way.
Koroisau told the Western Weekender: “I just remember the last few times we’ve played Canberra; it’s always been very hostile – we’ve started a mini rivalry I think.
“To go down there, I think their crowd has always been a bit hostile, so I’m not expecting much of a reception from them on Saturday.”
Canberra sit ninth on the ladder on for-and-against, but have put together three-straight wins in their hunt for a finals spot.
“They have so much to play for, they are a really dangerous team and, when they do get it right, they do really challenge teams,” Koroisau said.
“We’re going to have to be at our best. Obviously, we’ve got a few people out but that’s no excuse these days because there’s so many good players around and so many people coming up in the team.
“We’re going to have to be up for the challenge this weekend.”
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