Canberra halfback Jamal Fogarty has been forced back to "square one," following the injury of fullback Xavier Savage in the pre-season challenge.

Savage broke his jaw in Sunday's pre-season challenge against the Bulldogs and has been ruled out of the Raiders' Round 1 encounter with the Cowboys.

The injury will bring winger Jordan Rapana into the number-one jersey for this week's trial against the West Tigers, a position he has only played 14 games in at a top-grade level.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 28: Jordan Rapana of the Raiders looks on during the round 7 NRL match between the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and the Canberra Raiders at Lottoland on April 28, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

"It's not ideal going through the whole pre-season with Xav - myself and Xav have worked really hard since I've come back to pre-season to get that combination going and just to get a steady start to the season," Fogarty told AAP. 

"To lose him we're kind of back to square one with a new fullback, but we've got the players here and the right coaching staff to get us a ready for the early rounds."

Last year it was Fogarty who was the Raiders' pre-season casualty after he injured his kned and missed the opening 11 rounds of the competition.

The loss of Fogarty and dummy half Josh Hodgson, who also succumbed to a knee injury, saw the Raiders stumble out of the starting blocks last season, winning just 5 games in 11 starts.

"Last year we probably didn't start too well and by the back end of the season, everyone saw what we can do when we were on," Fogarty continued.

"So for us it's just about trying to start that earlier, keeping it simple and doing all the fundamental things and execute and I'm sure we'll give ourselves a chance."

The injury is particularly unfortunate for head coach Ricky Stuart as the green machine is running relatively low on fullbacks since the release of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.

Further injury or poor form from the inexperienced Savage could see Stuart face serious scrutiny for letting their Grand Finalist fullback join the Warriors.

Outside of Rapana, Albert Hopoate is the only other fullback available for selection unless Stuart makes the shock decision to move Jack Wighton into the backfield.

NRL Rd 18 - Raiders v Sharks
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 17: Xavier Savage of the Raiders is tackled during the round 18 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Cronulla Sharks at Cbus Super Stadium, on July 17, 2021, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Regi Varghese/Getty Images)

However, Fogarty was adamant that Rapana could do the job in the absence of Savage stating, "Raps can do the job there. We've seen it before last year in a couple of games he's gone back to play fullback.

"Raps is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person in general, but also as a footballer.

"He's never holding the wing anyway, he's always roaming around so it probably suits him very well."

The shift of Rapana to fullback has seen Harley Smith-Shields brought on to the wing for this week's trial against the Wests Tigers.