Josh McCrone will switch to hooker for the Canberra Riaders this season.

Josh McCrone will switch to hooker for the Canberra Riaders this season. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Raiders star Josh McCrone is determined to succeed in his positional switch to hooker and will take tips from some of the best dummy halves in the game to establish the No. 9 jersey as his own.

But the NSW Country representative says the door is left open for him to return to the halves if things don't work out in his new role after the first two months of the season.

With Canberra's two other contenders for the hooker spot, Glen Buttriss and Brisbane Broncos recruit Kurt Baptiste, sidelined with shoulder injuries, McCrone will get first crack at dummy half in the opening trial match against Melbourne Storm next Saturday night at AAMI Park.

McCrone has played the majority of his career at five-eighth or in the halves, but has trained predominantly at hooker in his first pre-season under new coach Ricky Stuart.

After splitting time between hooker and the halves last season, usually during games, McCrone is feeling more at home having the opportunity to make the move permanent.

''It was hard to have an impact at hooker after playing 60 minutes in the halves, not being fresh and going to hooker,'' McCrone said.

''I want to be an 80-minute hooker, that's my goal, but that doesn't happen overnight.

''If [Stuart] did want to go that way I wanted a full pre-season to give myself the best opportunity to succeed there, and he's let me do that.''

Getting used to the increased defensive workload has been one of McCrone's biggest adjustments.

He will have to make about double the number of tackles a game he has had to make previously and will have to combat big front-rowers head on.

''Ricky said to me if it doesn't work out we can always go back to the halves, but I'm not planning on it not working out,'' he said. ''I'm pretty determined to stay there.

''He obviously thinks it's pretty good for the team me playing hooker and it's something I enjoy.''

McCrone's value on the open market is likely to increase if he succeeds in the transition to dummy half.

The 26-year-old is off-contract at the end of the season and his manager Steve Gillis will be in Canberra next week for discussions with the Raiders.

''If all goes well he'll be there [next year],'' Gillis said.

McCrone playing at hooker allows the Raiders to move young gun Jack Wighton into the halves to partner captain Terry Campese.

McCrone's kicking game gives the Raiders another attacking option out of dummy half.

While he doesn't want to copy the play of the likes of Cameron Smith, Robbie Farah and Jake Friend, McCrone admits he would be silly not to steal some ideas from the best hookers in the competition.

''The material's there so you might as well take advantage of it,'' he said.

''It's good to watch Cameron Smith, and some of the stuff he does is pretty impressive.

''I've looked at a bit of his kicking game and I'm happy enough to look at all hookers.''