Rugby League

Elliott Whitehead to make Canberra Raiders debut in NRL trial

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart says English international recruit Elliott Whitehead will play on the right edge in 2016, raising further questions as to the make-up of Canberra's forward pack this season.

Elliott Whitehead will play his first match in lime green this weekend in an NRL trial.
Elliott Whitehead will play his first match in lime green this weekend in an NRL trial. Photo: Rohan Thomson

With an embarrassing amount of talent available, Stuart will need to turn four players into three for their round-one clash against Penrith.

Queensland Origin representative Josh Papalii played on the right for most of last season but also spent time in the front row. Sia Soliola was named the Raiders 2015 player of the year on the left edge, and is unlikely to be shifted.

And Shaun Fensom has been a mainstay at lock since breaking into the side in 2011.

Whitehead comes to the Raiders on the back of a successful Test series against New Zealand. He scored two tries to help England win the series decider.  


The 26-year-old Yorkshireman will make his debut for the Raiders in a trial against the Newcastle Knights on Saturday night in Orange. 

Stuart said there was no reason to deviate from where Whitehead has played most of his rugby league. He could still be named on the bench and move to the right edge when Papalii is rested.

"He'll be on the right edge – his normal position," Stuart said.

"It's where he has played all his international football and club football in England, so that's where he'll be for us.

Stuart said he had been impressed with Whitehead's transition from English Super League to an NRL club.

"He's a very talented football player and the way he's transitioned his English background and rugby league to where he is today – the work he's put in has been very professional.

"A lot of the English league players that I've been fortunate to coach – Adrian Morley is the other one that comes to mind – are all very good trainers.

"[Raiders hooker] Josh Hodgson is a great trainer, and Elliott is very athletic and a good trainer too, and it's a big part of the process of being able to play your best football – adapting to conditions here."