MITCHELL Cornish is poised to earn his first taste of an NRL-like contest against the game’s best team on Saturday night.
Coach David Furner this week indicated the Raiders under 20s skipper would be given around half-an-hour to stake his claim for a first grade spot when the Canberrans tackle defending premiers the Melbourne Storm in Geelong on Friday.
Should the 20-year-old perform well enough, he’ll earn a call-up for the Raiders second trial with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on his home patch Workers Arena on February 23.
It’s understood Josh McCrone and Sam Williams, the two men fighting to play alongside Terry Campese in the halves, would be given the bulk of the showdown to prove their worth.
Afterwards, an opportunity will open for Cornish and his halves partner Anthony Milford.
“‘I’ll run [first choice halves] Josh McCrone and Sam Williams for a good 50-odd minutes, then those two will get 30 minutes after that,’’ Furner said.
The occasion won’t be a true indication of the NRL, however.
The Raiders head to Geelong minus David Shillington, Joel Thompson, Reece Robinson, Jake Foster and Jack Wighton, who’ll each be taking part in the All Stars clash at Suncorp Stadium.
Canberra is also without Campese, Brett White, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Glen Buttris, each hampered by injury.
But others’ misfortune is Cornish’s gain. Should he perform well enough and skipper Campese continue to remain on the injured list, it’s likely Cornish will be given a second chance to impress when the Raiders tackle grand finalists the Bulldogs.
The second and final trial before the NRL season will resemble a fully-fledged premiership round. Raiders CEO Don Furner expects both teams to be at full-strength.
The young Goulburn league product isn’t the only member of the Cornish family hoping to make an impression on those in the NRL.
Back-to-back Canberra Raiders Cup under 18s player of the year, Tyler Cornish, is contracted with the Sydney Roosters under 20s team. There’s every chance the brothers could go head-to-head when the Raiders host the Roosters in round five.