David Shillington during the Raiders' gruelling pre-season campaign.

David Shillington during the Raiders' gruelling pre-season campaign. Photo: Melissa Adams

He may have stepped down from the Canberra Raiders leadership group, but David Shillington is ''excited'' about taking on extra responsibility at home as he awaits the arrival of his first child.

Shillington's wife Sonia is due to give birth to a daughter within days after the couple married during the off-season.

While he's lost a bundle of weight to keep pace with the modern game, the prop is brimming with anticipation at welcoming his new bundle of joy.

Shillington with wife Sonia, who is due to give birth this week to their first child.

Shillington with wife Sonia, who is due to give birth this week to their first child. Photo: Lyn Mills

''Everyone talks about it changing your life like nothing you can imagine,'' he said. ''The anticipation is enormous at the moment, I can't wait and am very excited.

''We've got some family coming down [from Queensland] in the next couple of months to help us out a bit.''

While his off-field life will soon be turned on its head, Shillington has shed four kilograms to adapt to the modern game after losing his Queensland Origin and Australia jerseys last year.

The 30-year-old said new coach Ricky Stuart has made it clear reputations would count for little at the selection table as Canberra's youngsters apply the blowtorch to Raiders mainstays.

''Ricky made sure everyone knew that you're not going to get by on your name or your reputation, he's going to pick players who are training hard and playing well,'' Shillington said.

''I don't particularly need competition [for spots], I've got my own motivation already but the competition from front-row to fullback to the halves is really healthy.

''Everyone talks about the Raiders having an incredible wealth of young talent and the need to nurture and hold on to them. I think this year we're actually doing that.

''Young guys are being given a fair go and equal opportunity, they're enjoying that and putting pressure on established players to lift or maintain their game.''

Shillington stood down from the leadership group midway through last year, one of the most tumultuous in Raiders history.

It has been trimmed to four this season, but Shillington insisted it's the last thing on his mind.

''I'm not really concerned about any of that stuff, to be honest,'' he said. ''I just want to train hard and help the other players like I have been this pre-season, talk it up and lead from the front.

''In the front of my mind is getting the Raiders back to the top, and hopefully if I can work my way back into some rep teams that would be fantastic as well.

''That's what I'm focusing on, not leadership groups or anything.''

Renowned as one of the NRL's biggest sides, the majority of Canberra's forward pack has trimmed down to improve endurance, and the poor defence and ball control which has plagued the Raiders.

New rules introduced by the NRL will make the competition faster than ever.

''Conditioning … they've taken it to the next level, which I think we needed,'' Shillington said.

''There's been a big focus on defence and ball control because those areas have let us down enormously in the last couple of years.

''The game's getting faster every year and it will definitely help our endurance, particularly in defence.

''You have to evolve with the game. If you don't you fall out the back and the next minute you're playing in England, or reserve grade.''

SATURDAY
NRL trial match: Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders at AAMI Park, 5.30pm.