Canberra Raiders re-sign England World Cup back-rower Elliott Whitehead
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Canberra Raiders re-sign England World Cup back-rower Elliott Whitehead

Canberra Raiders ironman Elliott Whitehead has declared his intention to win an NRL premiership before returning home to England for a career swansong when he finishes his Green Machine stint.

Whitehead signed a two-year contract extension on Friday to stay with the Raiders until the end of 2020 as the club continues its bid to lock in its roster for the future.

Elliott Whitehead has re-signed with the Raiders.

Elliott Whitehead has re-signed with the Raiders.Credit:Graham Tidy

It is hoped more re-signings will follow in the coming weeks, with hooker Josh Hodgson and winger Nick Cotric in negotiations to commit to new deals.

Whitehead says he didn't hesitate pledging his immediate future to Canberra after moving to the capital at the start of last year.

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The England World Cup back-rower has played almost every minute of every game since his debut, missing just one of 50 games so far. The only game he missed was because of suspension.

Whitehead will be 31 when his contract expires and admits he has thought about finishing his career in England if he has achieved his Raiders premiership goal

But the 28-year-old says his only focus is redemption after the Raiders failed to make the finals this season.

"I probably didn't think I would stay here this long to be honest, I thought I'd go home at the end of next year," Whitehead said.

"But it was an easy decision to stay. I never thought about going anywhere else.

"We need a big year next season to prove what we are capable of and hopefully we can show that.

"I think I'll always go back home but that's a long way away. Winning a grand final is definitely my intention and hopefully it comes sooner rather than later."

Whitehead is in Perth finalising preparations for the World Cup under England mentor Wayne Bennett.

He has been a versatile addition to the Raiders' squad and has become a workhorse of the Raiders' forward pack.

"It's been a good challenge having to shift around a bit but I'd prefer to play back row if it's possible," Whitehead said.

"I feel like I've matured more as a person off the field since being in Canberra. On the field I think I'm pretty similar.

"I try to look after myself away from rugby and I feel like it's paying off because I'm playing close enough to 80 minutes every week."

The bulk of the Raiders squad will start pre-season training in the coming weeks, but Whitehead and Hodgson have their sights set on a World Cup triumph.

Whitehead forms Canberra's international contingent at the tournament after all of the Green Machine's players were overlooked for Australian Kangaroos duties.

Jordan Rapana and Joe Tapine will play for New Zealand while Joey Leilua, Josh Papalii and Junior Paulo have been picked in Samoa's squad.

England played a warm-up match against the Affiliated States in Perth on Friday night and will clash against Australian in the World Cup opener on October 27.

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"We've got a really good group of boys and we're all confident," Whitehead said.

"Hopefully we can get our combinations working before going into the opener against Australia next week."