Young Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh has sights on NRL debut
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Young Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh has sights on NRL debut

He's caught co-captain Josh Hodgson's eye as the Canberra Raiders player to watch and Corey Horsburgh has set his sights on making his NRL debut this year.

But the big redheaded forward expects to start the season playing for Mounties in the NSW Cup.

Young Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh has caught co-captain Josh Hodgson's eye.

Young Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh has caught co-captain Josh Hodgson's eye.Credit:Raiders Media

Horsburgh joined the Raiders on a development contract ahead of last season, but moved into the top 30 for 2019.

The 21-year-old grew up in Brisbane and joined the North Queensland Cowboys when he was 17.

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He caught the Raiders' eye a couple of years ago with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart personally calling him to convince him to come to Canberra.

Horsburgh's living with his sister, who was already working in the ACT medical system.

It's his second pre-season with the Green Machine, but his first as a member of the senior squad, and Hodgson has noticed his efforts at training.

Hodgson was looking forward to how he progresses this year, with the hope he'd become part of a talented Raiders pack.

It's something Horsburgh wanst to make come true. Although he knows it will be tough.

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Canberra has world-class forwards in Josh Papalii, Elliott Whitehead, Joe Tapine and John Bateman, plus plenty of experience in the front row with Dunamis Lui and Sia Soliola.

Horsburgh said he took heart out of how Emre Guler and Jack Murchie were able to break through for their debuts last year.

"That's the goal this year, but we'll see what happens. It's been going alright so far," he said.

"We've got a really solid team this year and I'm just going to have to probably start in the NSW Cup and hopefully make my way up from there.

"It's a pretty solid forward pack, we'll see what happens."

Horsburgh started 2018 playing under-20s for Mounties before spending a majority of the season playing NSW Cup.

He played in the Queensland under-20s side that beat NSW for the first time and was a late call-up for the Australian under-20s that beat New Zealand in October.

Horsburgh played lock for the Junior Kangaroos, but said he can play anywhere in the forward pack.

"I was lucky enough to make the two teams, that was two of my goals last year, I got to tick them off so I was very happy," he said.

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"The Queensland 20s was crazy. It was the first team to win, beat NSW, that was really good."

As a big redhead you might think he'd hate training in this heatwave that's melting Canberra, but as a Queenslander it's not the sun that's his problem.

It's when it gets cold in the middle of winter that he's not so keen.

He said they weren't doing anything different to avoid the heat at training, instead using it to get ready for the opening rounds of the season.

The Raiders travel to the Gold Coast to play the Titans in round one and are back in Queensland to take on the Cowboys in Townsville in round four.

"Our first few rounds are in Queensland so Ricky wants us to get used to the heat. I think it's good for us," Horsburgh said.

"As long as I put sunscreen on I'm right, but when the cold comes around that's when I struggle.

"I was in Townsville for a few years, that was a big change when I came here."

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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