Cessnock junior Joel Edwards could make his debut with the Canberra Raiders this Sunday at Penrith’s Centrebet Stadium.
Edwards joined the Raiders this season after 45 first grade appearances in three years at the Newcastle Knights.
The 24-year-old has been warmly welcomed by his new club and is enthusiastic about the year ahead after a promising pre-season.
“I’m loving it down there; we’ve had a good off-season, and there’s a good mix of exciting young players and experience,” Edwards said.
The Raiders defeated both of last year’s grand finalists (Melbourne and Canterbury) in trial matches, with Edwards making an impact in their 40-8 defeat of defending premiers the Storm.
“Everyone’s excited and upbeat for the season ahead, and looking forward to playing Penrith,” Edwards said.
Edwards was yesterday named in Canberra's 18-man squad for the round one clash with the Panthers.
Raiders head coach David Furner described Edwards as a very tough player who gives the team “a bit more starch in the middle defensively”.
“He’s a very strong defender and when you play against the likes of Edwards, you know that if you’re going to run into him you will that know that you’ve been tackled,” Furner said.
“He’s also got some really good footwork at the line and any player with good footwork is going to get you some fast play-the-balls and cause problems for the opposition.
“I’m really excited about having Joel involved with the club, working in tandem with our other great back-rowers such as Shaun Fensom, Joel Thompson and Josh Papalii. He’s fitted in well and is looking set for a great year after an impressive pre-season.”
The Raiders will take on Edwards’s former club at Newcastle’s Hunter Stadium on March 31.