Tonight’s clash against the Canberra Raiders throws up some key battles across the park.
On the wing, Josh Mansour will line up against the Raiders’ Sisa Waqa in what should be an intriguing physical battle between two of the strongest wingers in the game. James Segeyaro is back in the starting line up at hooker and will go toe-to-toe with Englishman Josh Hodgson, who is enjoying a breakout season in the NRL having joined the Raiders from the Super League this season. Off the bench, two of the strongest forwards in the game will be looking to add energy when they are introduced to the field in Jeremy Latimore and Paul Vaughan.
Mansour’s season has been halted by injury but he’s returned to the side and found the form that helped the Panthers reach the preliminary finals last season and culminated in a spot in the Australian Four Nations squad. Having run out for the side on ten occasions this season, Mansour has crossed the try line on five occasions and averaged 145 metres per game, as well as making 28 tackle busts and 13 offloads.
His counterpart, Waqa, has featured 19 times for the Raiders this season, scoring five tries, averaging 111 metres per game, made 20 tackle busts and 36 offloads.
Having also been missing for periods of the season through injury, Segeyaro has still shown the form that had many fans and pundits heaping praise on the PNG hooker since his move to the foot of the Mountains in 2013. With a wicked dummy and a devastating burst of speed, Segeyaro has scored five tries in his 16 games this season, along with seven line breaks, 29 offloads, and averaging 37 tackles per game.
His opponent, Hodgson, is enjoying a promising first season in the NRL quickly becoming a key player for the Raiders having played every game thus far since his move from Hull KR in England. Hodgson has made 22 appearances, scoring two tries, making 16 offloads and averaging 33 tackles per game.
Jeremy Latimore will be motivated to leave his mark on the match as he lines up for his 100th NRL game. Having signed from St George Illawarra in 2013, Latimore has become one of the hardest working forwards and provided aggression off the bench for his side. Latimore hasn’t missed a game for Penrith this season, averaging 44 minutes, 27 tackles and 115 metres per game whilst making 33 offloads.
Opposing forward, Vaughan, has also featured in every game for the Raiders this term renowned for his hard-hitting style and imposing frame. Vaughan has averaged 42 minutes for his side, making 141 metres and 22 tackles per game along with 10 offloads.