Raiders hope Sharks distracted by doping saga

Last updated 18:08 23/08/2014
Josh McCrone
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RAIDERS CAPTAIN: Josh McCrone.

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New Canberra co-captain Josh McCrone hopes Cronulla players will be distracted by this week's latest Asada dramas ahead of Sunday's battle for the wooden spoon at Remondis Stadium.

The Sharks, already ravaged by injuries to several top-line NRL players, won't be able to call on Paul Gallen and Anthony Tupou, who have accepted a one-month backdated ban by the anti-doping authority following a probe into the club's supplement programme in 2011.

Injured pair John Morris and Wade Graham have also been suspended but would have been unavailable for the visit of the Raiders with Nathan Gardner, who is also banned, being kept out of the side by the form of fullback Michael Gordon.

The Raiders haven't finished with the wooden spoon since their inaugural season in 1982 and defeat against the Sharks would almost certainly guarantee them rugby league's most ignominious honour for the second time.

It would also see coach Ricky Stuart become the first man to guide two different clubs to a last-place finish following his disastrous reign at Parramatta 12 months ago - a side who have become rejuvenated by his replacement Brad Arthur.

But McCrone was confident Canberra would have enough to beat the Sharks and said there had been no mention of the wooden spoon around the club.

''To be honest we've not spoken about it,'' McCrone said.

''There are six points out there and a lot of things that have to happen before that is handed out.

''It's been a disappointing year that we are even talking about the wooden spoon but we maybe have to hit rock bottom to bounce back.''

The Sharks have hit rock bottom several times over the last 18 months ever since the infamous 'darkest day in Australian sport' press conference in February last year.

They were as desperate as the Raiders to avoid finishing last, but McCrone said his team sympathised with their plight.

''It's no different to playing any other team, it doesn't bother us what's happening with them,'' he said.

''Hopefully it affects their performance, but they have shown many times that they seem to get stronger in adversity.

''But this is chance for us to put our best foot forward over the next three weeks and finish the season well.''

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