Raiders want to lock Whitehead down in NRL
(AAP Image/David Moir)
After re-signing captain Jarrod Croker, Canberra have turned their attention to extending Elliott Whitehead's stay at the Raiders.
Canberra chief executive Don Furner has opened talks with Whitehead, who is off-contract at the end of next season, to keep the England international at the club beyond his current deal.
"Elliott's one of a few that Don's in communication with," coach Ricky Stuart said.
Croker will remain at the club until the end of 2020 and has declared he wants to be a Raider for life.
He joins centre Joey Leilua, winger Jordan Rapana and fullback Jack Wighton as key players to sign extensions during the year.
Getting in early has allowed the Raiders to avoid the mid-season merry-go-round of player movement.
"It's a sign of strength in regards to knowing what's coming ahead of us," Stuart said.
"We're starting to build experience around our squad."
Uncertainty around the salary cap has prompted fears players may be squeezed out of clubs, but Croker doesn't believe Canberra will be affected.
"There's been a lot of talk about that but at the end of the day no one knows anything until they come out and tell us what the salary cap is," Croker said.
The versatile Whitehead will start at lock against the Warriors in Auckland on Sunday after impressing in his debut at No.13 last week against Cronulla.
He deputised for Croker in the centres earlier in the year before returning to his regular position in the second row.
Injuries also prompted Stuart to use Whitehead in a brief stint at five-eighth last season, his first in the NRL after joining from the Super League.
"He's been one of our best players for the last two years," Stuart said.
"He's just a wonderful football player who gives this team so much utility value."
© AAP 2017