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Williams called up to cover Campese

It's the NRL chance departing Canberra playmaker Sam Williams didn't believe he'd get.
Williams called up to cover Campese
by AAP

By David Barbeler

CANBERRA, Aug 16 AAP - It's the NRL chance departing Canberra playmaker Sam Williams didn't believe he'd get.

Stuck behind playmakers Terry Campese and Josh McCrone since round eight, the St George Illawarra-bound halfback thought he'd finish his Raiders career playing for the Mounties in NSW Cup.

But an eye injury to skipper Campese will give Williams perhaps one final crack in the Raiders first grade side when they host Canterbury at Canberra Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

"This is an opportunity he didn't think he'd get, leaving next year," said McCrone, who will assume the role of co-captain alongside David Shillington and Brett White.

"We did a bit of work on (our combination) this week so hopefully it feels the same as it did last year when we were playing well."

It was touch and go for Williams.

Raiders coach David Furner knew he was more than up to the task after his impressive performances in the lime-green jersey during their 2012 finals run.

However the 22-year-old had only just started running again early this week after injuring his ankle three weeks ago.

"He's had two pretty good training sessions," Furner said.

"There was contact involved and I know he's pretty excited."

With Campese's long range kicking game out, McCrone said he and Williams would share the responsibility in a hope to create problems for stand-in Bulldogs fullback Sam Perrett.

"One thing in our favour is Ben Barba is out," McCrone said.

"(Perrett's) not a regular fullback, so hopefully we can catch them out of position a couple of times."

The Raiders also have their share of injured key players.

Campese will be joined on the sidelines by tackling machine Shaun Fensom, whose defensive role will be taken over by Joel Edwards.

Representative forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, who was confident of returning this week after a three-month foot injury, has now succumbed to a minor hamstring problem.

The Bulldogs on the other hand will be missing prop Sam Kasiano (knee) and back-rower Greg Eastwood (broken hand) following Monday night's 26-16 loss to the Titans.

"It's disappointing, they are big losses," Bulldogs forward Aiden Tolman said.

"But the guys coming into the side, Tim Browne and Martin Taupau are going to do a great job."

It's an important match for both the fifth-placed Bulldogs and the ninth-placed Raiders, as either team are still at risk of missing the play-offs.

"It's really close, it's bumper-to-bumper in that top eight," said Bulldogs halfback Trent Hodkinson.

"Every wins counts leading into the finals."


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