Despite a lean year in the eyes of many, one consistent performer that has Canberra Raiders fans pleased to call him one of their own is Elliott Whitehead.
Selected for the England squad for the upcoming Rugby League World Cup, the English international gave Raiders fans an early signing boost by re-committing until the end of the 2020 season.
Currently contracted for the 2018 season, the new deal is effectively a 2-year extension in advance to ward off rival overtures.
With no intention to depart the nation’s capital, Whitehead’s decision was an easy one as he looks forward to what the club is building and achieving moving forward.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time in Canberra and I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” said Whitehead.
“We’re building something special and I want to be a part of that.”
“Canberra as a city is a great place to live and come to work each day. I love the laid-back atmosphere of the city and it’s been easy for me to settle in here.”
Knowing that improvement is needed if they are to be a serious threat in the NRL in 2018, Whitehead is confident the Raiders side have the tools and weapons to challenge top sides.
“We’ve obviously got to improve on what we did last season but we know we have the talent in the group to do this,” continued the English international.”
“We can sometimes be a bit unpredictable for other teams which can be a good thing, but we also need to make sure that we continue to play the footy that suits us.”
With 50 games for the Raiders under his belt, Whitehead’s versatility has proven vital for the Raiders and although he will play where coach Ricky Stuart needs him to, back-row is the Englishman’s preference.
“It’s been a good challenge having to shift around a bit but I’d prefer to play back row if it’s possible,” said Whitehead.
“I’m not sure what Ricky has planned for me next year and I’ll play anywhere if he believes it’s the best for the team, I just want to be on the field in the green jersey.”
Whitehead’s on-field and off-field exploits have been noticed by all at the club as he drew praise from CEO Don Furner.
“We’re very fortunate to have a player like Elliott at our club and what he’s achieved in his two seasons in the NRL has been remarkable,” Furner said.
“He sets a great example for his teammates on and off the field and this was highlighted when he received the Coaches award on Meninga Medal night.
“The clubs excited about his re-signing and it continues our push to lock up the core playing group into the future.”