Week off key to NRL title: Canberra
Canberra believe the crucial week off they've secured in the NRL finals could set them up for a drought-breaking premiership.
The Raiders upset Melbourne on the road in their qualifying final last weekend and will now host their first preliminary final in club history on Friday week.
The Green Machine will rest this weekend and host the victor of Friday's clash between South Sydney and Manly.
Canberra haven't played in a grand final since club legend Mal Meninga lifted the trophy in the 1994 decider, but they're now just 80 minutes away.
The Raiders went within one win of the 2016 grand final but hooker Josh Hodgson said a gruelling September campaign ultimately caught up with them three years ago.
"This time of year everyone has niggles so it's nice to have that extra week to let everything settle down," Hodgson said.
"You just have a bit more spring in your step (with the week off). When we did it in '16 we got beat by the Sharks down here then played Penrith the next week in another big game then went to Melbourne and we only just got beat.
"But I think if we'd won that game we would have had four or five blokes out for the final anyway. We were shot to bits after three massively physical games. It was a really tough ask."
Hodgson said the proof was already in the pudding and pointed to coach Ricky Stuart resting four players for the Raiders' final game before they upset the Storm.
"We saw last week we reaped the rewards of some of the boys having a break against the Warriors," Hodgson said.
"John Bateman was fantastic for us, big Sia (Soliola) started the game really well and Charnze (Nicoll-Klokstad) looked like he had a real spring in his step again.
"It just helps (having a rest) this time of year when you've played a lot of footy."
© AAP 2019