Rugby League

Elliott Whitehead 'exceptional' buy for Canberra Raiders: Sam Williams

Canberra halfback Sam Williams rates England international Elliott Whitehead an "exceptional" recruit for the Raiders, confident he's coming to Australia at the peak of his game.

Whitehead will be the second England international at the Raiders next year, the powerful second-rower joining hooker Josh Hodgson.

The Raiders consulted Hodgson, Sia Soliola and Williams, who played with Whitehead at French club Catalan Dragons, before signing the 25-year-old on a two-year deal.

Williams said Whitehead had spoken about his ambition to play in the NRL when they were teammates last year.

"It was in the back of his mind that he'd like to come out here and spend a couple of years, a lot of players are interested in the NRL and ask a lot of questions," Williams said.

"He's a really good player, he's got a bit of ball-playing ability, but he's also got a really good ticker, he works really hard so I think he'll be exceptional for the side."

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"He was probably in the top-two second rowers of the year over there [in the UK Super League] last year and he's started this year well. He was pretty keen about coming to Australia and testing himself. He's at an age where he's starting to hit his straps."

Whitehead was selected as part of the Super League's Dream Team in 2014, scoring an impressive 18 tries as the Dragons finished one win from the grand final.

"He's deceptively strong, he finds a way to break tackles," Williams said.

The Raiders have recruited Whitehead and Gold Coast half Aidan Sezer for next year and remain in the market for more.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has ruled out signing more players from the Super League this year, but it has already been productive. The Raiders signed Hodgson, Soliola and Williams from the Super League for this season.

"As Aussies we probably don't understand the quality that's in the competition over there, we probably just look at international results," Williams said.

"The main difference is the week-in, week-out competitiveness, but in terms of individual players there's certainly enough players that can handle the NRL.

"We've seen some of the quality players that have come out and I think Elliott will be no different."

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