Canberra Raiders centre Matt Allwood signs with NZ Warriors until 2017

Canberra Raiders centre Matt Allwood signs with NZ Warriors until 2017

The Canberra Raiders are on the search for more outside backs after losing rookie centre Matt Allwood to the New Zealand Warriors on a three-year contract at the end of this season.

The Raiders have already been in the market to try to find a replacement for fullback Anthony Milford, who will leave for the Brisbane Broncos in 2015.

Matt Allwood is leaving Canberra for the Warriors

Matt Allwood is leaving Canberra for the WarriorsCredit:Getty Images

Allwood, 21, debuted for the Raiders in round one this year and played the first nine games before he was dropped after the 54-12 flogging to the Warriors in Auckland.

Allwood was upfront with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart and told him he had some interest from the Warriors in the lead-up to the 26-20 loss to the Panthers last weekend.


He understood Stuart's decision to relegate him to the NSW Cup based on form to allow Jack Wighton to return to the centres and Josh McCrone to play alongside Terry Campese in the halves.

"It was a decision the coach made and I'll stand by what he's done,'' Allwood said.

''He's done it for the right reasons and I'm not questioning that or arguing that.

''The boys were very close on the weekend to getting a win so he knows what he's doing, for sure.''

The Raiders also offered Allwood a three-year deal, but the Warriors came up with a slightly better contract financially.

He also had interest from South Sydney and Melbourne Storm.

With Wighton back in the centres alongside Jarrod Croker, and Edrick and Brenko Lee waiting in the wings, the Raiders have enough depth in that position.

Their main focus is recruiting a fullback to replace Milford.

Wests Tigers custodian James Tedesco is the one of few options in the open market, along with Manly lower grader Clinton Gutherson, who is stuck behind Brett Stewart and Peta Hiku.

The Raiders could revert to Reece Robinson, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

Allwood is committed to fighting his way back into the Raiders' first-grade team this season, and admitted it was a tough choice to leave the club.

''I love the Raiders and they've been great and given me my opportunity, but it comes down to a bit of a personal preference,'' Allwood said.

''It's a good opportunity to see the world and a chance to test myself.

"I want to do my best for the Raiders this year and get back into the first-grade squad.''

Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden – a former assistant coach with the Raiders from 2010 to 2012 – has big raps on Allwood.

“I saw Matt come through Canberra’s system into the national youth competition and was impressed with him from the outset,” McFadden said.

“He’s quick and he’s a tough kid, too.

''It’s great to have a young player of his ability coming into the club to add depth and quality to our centres.

“It will help make the environment really competitive, which is just what we need.”

Born in Scone in NSW, Allwood has represented the state at both under-17 and under-18 levels.

Allwood graduated to Canberra’s fulltime NRL squad last season after making 32 NYC appearances in 2011 and 2012. Last year he played for the Raiders’ feeder club the Mounties in the New South Wales Cup.

Lee Gaskin is a sports reporter at The Canberra Times.

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