The first round of the Austbrokers Canberra, Canberra Raiders Cup gets underway tonight at GIO Stadium.
The Queanbeyan Blues will be looking to begin their premiership defence in perfect fashion as they take on the Yass Magpies at GIO Stadium.
The Blues, who are led by captain-coach and former Canberra Raiders captain Terry Campese, have had a number of changes to last year’s squad. Italian international Gioele Celerino and former Queanbeyan Kangaroos players, Aidan Woods and Aisea Taholo add the sides forward pack as the Blues look to start the season in the same fashion as last year.
Yass will provide stiff competition for the Queanbeyan side under new coach Jarrad Teka.
The Magpies have added quality to their squad with former Tumut pair Jacob Toppin and Jacob McGrath as the side look to better their third place finish from last year.
The Tuggeranong Bushrangers and Woden Valley Rams will play for the Michael Burns Cup for the first time and there is little to split the two sides.
Last year’s two matches between the south Canberra rivals were both draws but the sides will be looking to start their 2018 campaign with a win.
Woden will welcome back their former junior, Lincoln Withers, for the game while Tuggeranong will be looking towards club captain Josh Mitchell to control the game.
The Gungahlin Bulls welcome the Queanbeyan Kangaroos for their first home game of the season.
After suffering an injury crisis last season, the Gungahlin Bulls will be looking to start their season with a win but could struggle against an impressive Queanbeyan outfit.
The Kangaroos have added former Canberra Raider Jeff Lima to their already impressive forward pack but a lack of trial matches could see them start slowly.
The Belconnen United Sharks were last year’s cellar dwellers but are an unknown quantity this year after strong recruitment and full season with Scott Logan at the helm.
The additions of Jack Elliot and Channon McAskill to the forward pack with Isaac Hamad slotting into hooker should see the Sharks pose plenty of questions.
The Goulburn Workers Bulldogs have a new coach at the helm in Adam Kyle and like the Sharks, have a number of new faces in the side.
Fabien Paletua-Kiri and Connor Brebner slot into the front row in what is one of the biggest forward packs in the competition.
After two seasons of disappointment, Goulburn will be aiming to return to the finals and will be hoping for their new faces to gel quickly to help them achieve that.