AAP Rugby

We’ll beat any NRL finals team: Canberra

By AAP Newswire

Canberra don't care who they play in the NRL preliminary final on Friday week.

The Raiders will host South Sydney or Manly in their biggest home game in club history and the players are adamant it won't matter which team comes to the capital.

The Green Machine are flying after upsetting minor premiers Melbourne in their qualifying final last week, but they have lost to Souths and Manly this season.

The Sea Eagles and the Sydney Roosters are the only teams to beat Canberra twice this season and the Raiders could have to beat both to win their first premiership in 25 years.

But Canberra lock and New Zealand international Joe Tapine, who took an early guilty plea for a chicken wing tackle to play in the preliminary final, said their best can beat any side.

"I was a bit nervous after the game and just waiting for the morning to know if I was all good or not," Tapine said.

"The last two years have been pretty frustrating for me with injury and suspension but there was no way I was going to miss finals.

"We're at the business end and I'm looking forward to it. I don't mind who we play, we'll take on whoever."

England international John Bateman joined the Raiders this season and after the Melbourne win said it was the toughest team he's ever played in.

Tapine echoed the sentiment on Tuesday.

"I've only been involved with a couple of teams, and everyone keeps saying it, but this year does feel different. We're more competitive and strong together and you can feel that," Tapine said.

"We just enjoy working for each other. If someone makes a mistake we still have each other's backs.

"We back each other up but if you look around the park there's also a lot of skill and experience."

Rookie Bailey Simonsson, who scored the opener against the Storm, said he was relishing every minute of finals.

"We've had a few boys in the squad like Sia Soliola and Jarrod Croker that have been around for a long time and not won a premiership or even been to a grand final," Simonsson said.

"Opportunities like this don't present themselves very often in a football career so it's very important that as a squad we really capitalise on the opportunity we've got in front of us."