Vaughan, Hodgson in doubt for Raiders

Their forward pack is dwindling and now Canberra are at risk of being without star hooker Josh Hodgson for Sunday’s NRL clash with Cronulla.

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Hodgson and prop Paul Vaughan remain doubtful for the match at GIO Stadium, having injured themselves in the Raiders’ loss to Parramatta.

Vaughan suffered an ankle sprain, while Hodgson hurt both his thumb and knee.

The pair were named on Tuesday but will need to prove their fitness later in the week.

“I’ll need the most healthy footy team this weekend in regards to their physical welfare,” coach Ricky Stuart said.

“It’ll be a very physical game against Cronulla – it always is.”

Stuart said Hodgson, who continues to lead the Dally M Medal count after six rounds, was ok but needed to be at 100 per cent against the high-flying Sharks.

“I think the thumb is a little bit worse for wear than the knee,” he added.

“I’m hoping he’ll be okay. He’s been such an important part of the team over the start of the season.

“He controls the ruck very well, he’s a great asset to our two halves as well.”

The Raiders are already missing plenty of size with Sia Soliola (arm) and Jeff Lima (hand) sidelined for several weeks.

They almost also lost fellow forwards Shaun Fensom and Joseph Tapine, who escaped suspension after taking an early guilty plea for a dangerous throw on Michael Gordon in the Eels’ loss.

“We’re starting to run dry in the front row,” admitted Stuart.

“Injuries are hurting us a little bit at the moment. We’ve got our fingers crossed we’ll be okay.

“Bato (Luke Bateman) came on and played on the weekend and did a good job. He didn’t get a lot of minutes but he’ll certainly be getting more this weekend.”

Stuart said his men were a “bit off” against the Eels, poor in attack and defence – the opposite of how they were in beating Canterbury a week earlier.

“We’re going to be going into another tough one this weekend, hence the reason to pick the most healthy team.

“We’re just worried about getting back our performance and not worrying about how we play against certain teams.

“We’ll be better this weekend.”