Canberra Raiders plan to replace big boppers.
Canberra Raiders plan to replace big boppers.

Raiders’ plan to replace 245kg of front-row beef

CANBERRA isn't in a hurry to go to market and find replacements for front-row pair Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo.

Raiders recruitment boss Peter Mulholland yesterday admitted he is hesitant to splash out on a prop before knowing what the NRL's long-term interchange cap will be.

The NRL is considering dropping the interchange limit from eight to six per team per game. It's unknown when the change will take effect.

But the expected reduction in rotations mean big men who can only play limited minutes might suddenly see their value plummet.

Canberra has lost big boppers Boyd (to Gold Coast) and Paulo (to Parramatta) from 2019. Their official weights equal a combined 245 kilograms and they bookend an impressive forward pack in the nation's capital.

It leaves the club rather bare in prop stocks, but Mulholland certainly isn't panicking.

"No, we're not in a hurry (to sign a prop)," he said.

Junior Paulo will re-join Parramatta in 2019.
Junior Paulo will re-join Parramatta in 2019.

"As far as props go, there will be a few. You never know what clubs might come under a bit of duress with salary cap, you just don't know.

"If you put all your eggs in one basket too early you might get bitten."

And Canberra might not end up signing any big men to replace Boyd and Paulo anyway.

Mulholland admitted recruiters and coaches might be hesitant to sign a player who will take up two rotations on their bench and can only spend limited time on the field.

"I'm not sure the big blokes are where the future is either," Mulholland said.

"It will be 12 months before (the change) happens but I think sooner or later it will come down, the game will introduce something that will introduce fatigue.

"You saw it the other night with the two tries - James Roberts' try and the Jamayne Isaako try - I know they will play it down but the fatigue factor had set in and those young blokes came to the fore.

Josh Papalii of the Raiders is close to re-signing.
Josh Papalii of the Raiders is close to re-signing.

"I think sooner or later that will happen."

Canberra won't be completely without power up forward, though.

Josh Papalii has agreed to terms on a contract extension, which will be finalised when his manager returns from overseas.

Veteran hardman Sia Soliola is also said to be closing in on a new deal.

"We've got a couple of good young blokes. Liam Knight is there, Charlie Gubb played the other day, Dunamis Lui," Mulholland said.

Canberra has also spoken to Super League utility forward John Bateman.

A number of NRL clubs have approached the Wigan Warriors star but the Raiders have the advantage of his good friend Elliott Whitehead at the club.

Canberra is expected to announce the re-signing of Papalii in the near future, while halfback Aiden Sezer is also "all but done" and is set to sign his contract extension.

Mulholland said talks are ongoing with five-eighth Blake Austin, who is off contract and has previously turned down offers from the club.


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