Havili's Raiders future guaranteed ahead of Hodgson return

Canberra Raiders hooker Siliva Havili's future is guaranteed for another two years just as England rake Josh Hodgson could make an early return from a knee reconstruction.

The Raiders are in talks to lock in a number of their off-contract players, with prop Charlie Gubb set to play for his Canberra future over the next fortnight.

Havili joined the Raiders on a one-year deal following his efforts for Tonga at last year's World Cup.

Siliva Havili is set to sign a two-year extension with the Raiders.

Siliva Havili is set to sign a two-year extension with the Raiders.

He's been a revelation at dummy half in Hodgson's absence and is on the verge of finalising a two-year deal.

It comes at the perfect time with Hodgson just weeks away from a return from the anterior cruciate ligament tear he suffered at the World Cup.

Hodgson has returned to full training and it was initially hoped he'd be back between round 16-18.

But he could return as early as the Raiders' round 15 clash against West Tigers at Campbelltown Sunday week.

They might still err on the side of caution and wait for their following game, against the Brisbane Broncos in Brisbane, which would give him an extra two weeks due to the stand-alone State of Origin II at ANZ Stadium.

Raiders recruitment boss Peter Mulholland said all Havili needed to prove his worth was to be given a chance.

Havili played 14 NRL games for the New Zealand Warriors across two seasons and then 10 across the same period for St George Illawarra before making his way to Canberra this year.

He thought his career was over after his stint with the Dragons and was preparing to begin his career as a podiatrist.

But his efforts for Tonga combined with Hodgson's knee injury opened the door with the Raiders.

"We hope to have that finalised in the next 24 hours. He's made the most of every opportunity," Mulholland said.

"He only needed to be given an opportunity. He's been a wonderful substitute for Josh Hodgson and the fact he can play 13 as well as he can play nine has made him even more valuable."

With discussions ongoing around a number of players, Gubb has the next two games to fight for his ACT future.

The Raiders have a one-year option in their favour for 2019 after they signed him for this season from the Warriors.

He's played just four games for the Green Machine – including the last three – after a groin injury ended his debut in round two.

Canberra are light on for props for next season, with Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo both taking up four-year deals for other clubs from next year.

Gubb's been named on the bench to face the ladder-leading Penrith Panthers at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

His manager Frank Endacott will meet with the Raiders following the Tigers game to decide his future.

While the 28-year-old wants to stay in Canberra, it's believed there are three other NRL clubs interested in his services if the Raiders don't offer him an extension.

"They want him to play in those two games so they can make a final decision on whether they're going to go ahead with the extension," Endacott said.

"Don't make any mistake, I can get him somewhere else with a couple clubs, but he wants to stay at Canberra, but Canberra need to want him … they've got two weeks to make a decision on him."

Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer and Queensland forward Josh Papalii are close to finalising two-year and three-year extensions respectively.

A two-year extension for prop Dunamis Lui could also be finalised this week, while discussions are ongoing to finalise a transfer fee to bring John Bateman from the Wigan Warriors on a three-year deal.

English Super League club Castleford are interested in Brad Abbey to solve their fullback problems, but he's contracted with the Raiders until the end of 2019, with an option for another season, and they aren't interested in releasing him.

The Raiders also want to extend outside back Michael Oldfield for another season.

He's had limited chances since joining the Green Machine in 2017, playing just two games, but was viewed as a valuable member of the squad.

"He's a great bloke, he's a tremendous pro, he's great to have on board. He gives the coach a lot of confidence knowing that he's there as well," Mulholland said.

"It's unlucky for him, but it's lucky for the club in the sense that your back five are playing week to week."

NRL ROUND 14

Friday: Canberra Raiders v Penrith Panthers at Canberra Stadium, 6pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (c), 4. Joseph Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Dunamis Lui, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Iosia Soliola, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Josh Papalii. Interchange from: 14. Ata Hingano, 15. Luke Bateman, 16. Charlie Gubb, 17. Liam Knight, 18. Emre Guler, 19. Michael Oldfield, 20. Jack Murchie, 21. Craig Garvey.

Panthers: 1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 2. Christian Crichton, 3. Tyrone Peachey, 4. Dean Whare, 5. Tyrone Phillips, 6. James Maloney (c), 7. Nathan Cleary, 8. Trent Merrin, 9. Sione Katoa, 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11. Corey Harawira-Naera, 12. Isaah Yeo, 13. James Fisher-Harris. Interchange from: 14. Wayde Egan, 15. Kaide Ellis, 16. Viliame Kikau, 17. James Tamou, 18. Jarome Luai, 19. Tyrone May, 20. Thomas Eisenhuth, 21. Nick Lui-Toso, 22. Caleb Aikins, 23. Liam Martin.

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