Royce on the Hunt for second Canberra Raiders game
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Royce on the Hunt for second Canberra Raiders game

He knocked down the door to make his NRL debut in 2017, but Canberra Raiders prop Royce Hunt admits it's been tough waiting to play his second game.

The departure of two Green Machine big boppers re-opened that door for the 23-year-old and he's using the pre-season to prove a point and step back through it again.

Having made his debut in 2017, Raiders prop Royce Hunt wants to finally play his second this season.

Having made his debut in 2017, Raiders prop Royce Hunt wants to finally play his second this season.Credit:Karleen Minney

Hunt's efforts for Raiders' NSW Cup affiliate Mounties in 2017 impressed Canberra coach Ricky Stuart so much he offered him a contract to join the senior squad.

He made his NRL debut coming off the bench against the Penrith Panthers in the heart-breaking, last-gasp loss in Bathurst.

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Over the past one-and-a-half seasons he's been biding his time back with the Mounties waiting for that elusive second game.

"It's been a bit hard, go out every weekend and play hoping to get a call up, but that's the way footy is," Hunt said.

"I'll just hopefully get a go and get a shot this year."

Hunt, sporting a Dothraki-esque beard straight out of hit TV show Game Of Thrones, hoped the departure of two mainstays in the Raiders front row over the past few seasons would help his cause.

Shannon Boyd joined the Gold Coast Titans and Junior Paulo returned to Parramatta opening the way for a group of young props to try to force their way into the 17.

Emre Guler broke through for his NRL debut last year, Corey Horsburgh played for the Junior Kangaroos alongside Guler, Ryan Sutton has left England to make his mark Down Under, JJ Collins arrived and 24-year-old Luke Bateman already has 71 NRL caps.

The arrival of England international John Bateman could lead to Josh Papalii shifting across from lock into the front row, with the former Wigan forward a chance to claim the No.13 jersey.

But Hunt has his sights set on being part of the team to take on the Gold Coast Titans on the Gold Coast in round one.

He played in the Raiders' first of two pre-season trials - against the Parramatta Eels at St Marys - and had a solid second half, but he'll have to wait to see if he did enough to earn a spot against the Canterbury Bulldogs in Bega next Saturday.

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The Bega trial is likely to feature close to their round-one side.

"One hundred per cent. I'll put my best foot forward and hopefully put myself in for round one," Hunt said.

"My errors from last year [I need to] just improve on it and keep working, working on what I need to.

"I've been eager to play the whole pre-season so hopefully get a bit of game time and prove a point.

"With the two big boppers leaving I'll try and force my way in and hopefully get a spot."

CANBERRA RAIDERS UPCOMING GAMES

Pre-season trial: Canberra Raiders v Canterbury Bulldogs at Bega, February 23, 5pm.

Round 1: Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans at the Gold Coast, March 17 6.10pm.

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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