Nicoll-Klokstad out of trial with COVID

Troy Whittaker |

Canberra’s NRL trial preparations have again been disrupted by COVID-19 with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad scratched from Friday’s final pre-season hit-out against Manly after a positive rapid antigen test.

Adding to the bad news, prop Peter Hola is set to be be sidelined until round 2-4 with a MCL injury.

The Raiders were forced into a late reshuffle before their 32-18 win over the Sydney Roosters at the weekend with playmaker Sam Williams ruled out having contracted the virus.

Williams’ roommate on the Sydney trip, Matt Frawley, was also sidelined as a close contact, the pair joining teammate Jordan Rapana in COVID isolation as per the NRL’s Apollo protocols.

While Rapana will serve a shoulder charge suspension during the opening two rounds, missing the trial may have bigger ramifications for Nicoll-Klokstad amid a challenge for the fullback jersey from Xavier Savage.

The electric Savage, 19, starred against the Roosters with a try and several busts. Nicoll-Klokstad produced a mixed performance in the halves but set up a four-pointer with a line-break.

With coach Ricky Stuart expected to name close to his strongest side to face the Sea Eagles at Central Coast Stadium, Nicoll-Klokstad would likely have received more time in his preferred custodian’s role.

The 2019 grand final fullback has also shown himself to be a capable centre for New Zealand.

Hola, meanwhile, is set for a four-to-six week recovery after hurting his knee against the Roosters. Canberra are hopeful to have the bench forward return in the opening month of the season.