Shaun Berrigan has put his hand up to be the Raiders' starting hooker in 2013. Photo: Colleen Petch
He may be the third oldest player in the NRL, but Shaun Berrigan insists he has the motor to be Canberra's starting hooker in round one.
First choice rake Glen Buttriss has endured a horror pre-season due to complications after ankle surgery, which forced him to undergo a second operation.
Buttriss is the only key player yet to return to full training, and while he is rated an outside chance for the Raiders' second trial next week against Mounties, the third trial against Canterbury is the more realistic target.
Berrigan started the year at right centre in his first season for the Green Machine last year, before assuming the bench hooker role after Blake Ferguson's successful switch to the centres. Only Knights stalwart Danny Buderus and Manly veteran Joe Galuvao are older than the 34-year-old.
However, Berrigan has trained exclusively at dummy half during pre-season after hooker Travis Waddell was cut by the Raiders at the end of last season.
He has worked hard on his aerobic fitness to ensure he can play big minutes if required in a physically demanding position.
''Pretty much the only place I've trained has been at dummy half, poor Glenny Buttriss has had a fair few setbacks with his ankle, the poor fella, and hopefully he can get a trial in before the season starts,'' Berrigan said.
''Last year I started the season in the centres, and even though you come off the bench, you still play the same amount of minutes.
''Furnsey [coach David Furner] has not mentioned anything to me at all, but I'm pretty sure if Buttsy plays a trials he'll definitely be playing [round one].
Furner said a return to full training was imminent for Buttriss, but would like to see him get some match time under his belt to put himself in best position for round one selection.
''The extent of the complications he first had and where he's got to at the moment, he'll recover very quickly,'' Furner said.
''I like the fitness of Berro, being one of the oldest, he's in very good shape and [young hooker] Matty McIlwrick's learning more and more as he goes.''
Berrigan's contract with Canberra expires at the end of this year, but the former Clive Churchill medallist hasn't ruled out another year at the top level.
''I'm not really thinking that far ahead at the moment, I'm just happy about getting through the pre-season,'' he said.
''It's been quite tough and the body's held up really well.''
NRL trial match: Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders at Simonds Stadium, Geelong, 6.30pm.