Canberra coach Ricky Stuart is backing his players to overcome their latest off-field drama as the sacking of Curtis Scott threatens to overshadow a crucial clash with the Warriors.

Scott’s contract was ripped up after the Raiders determined a recent assault charge and previous incidents had brought the club into disrepute.

Scott hit back, saying the Raiders didn’t care about player welfare while teammates Josh Hodgson and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad have both spoken about their concerns for the 23-year-old following Monday’s decision.

The drama is far from the build-up the Raiders would have wanted heading into Friday’s game against the Warriors in Mackay, which is essentially make-or-break for both club’s finals ambitions.

Scott’s sacking comes during a season that has included Hodgson standing down from his co-captaincy role in May and the departure of English halfback George Williams.

“It’s been a year of distractions and they’ve become pretty used to it the boys,” Stuart said.

“I just finished talking about how impressed I was with their training today, but also if you take the scoreboard away from the last two games which we’re very disappointed in because they were losses, I couldn’t ask for a greater effort and energy that has been produced in these last two games as it has over the six-week period that we’ve been here in Queensland.”

Back-to-back defeats to Melbourne and Manly have left the Raiders outside the eight in 10th on the ladder and knowing realistically they have to win both of their remaining matches to make the finals.

The Raiders will persist with Jordan Rapana at fullback as Nicoll-Klokstad continues to find fitness from the bench while Matt Frawley has been given the nod at halfback ahead of Sam Williams.

The Warriors, who have to win both their remaining fixtures and hope other results fall their way to have any hope of making the top eight following last Sunday’s 24-22 loss to Brisbane, have also made key changes.

A foot injury to Chanel Harris-Tevita means Sean O’Sullivan comes in at five-eighth for Nathan Brown’s team while Kodi Nikorima and Matthew Lodge also return.

“They’ve got nothing to lose,” Stuart said.

“They’ll throw the football around, there’ll be no conservative football so it makes it even tougher defensively.

“We’ve really got to be on our game defensively because they’re a big, powerful football team.”

Distraction nothing new for NRL’s Raiders
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