Canberra Raiders fans can expect a hungrier forward pack in 2015 according to towering prop Dane Tilse, who was quick to laud the arrival of reigning Intrust Super Cup Player of the Year Luke Page (pictured).
With Shaun Fensom, David Shillington, Shannon Boyd and Paul Vaughan still at the Green Machine and former Roosters Iosia Soliola and Frank-Paul Nuuausala joining the club during the off-season, Tilse perhaps surprisingly singled out 23-year-old Page as the player who had impressed him the most over the summer months.
Page, who was signed by the Raiders midway through 2014 and switched from Burleigh to play for Canberra's Queensland feeder club Souths Logan, is the individual who has stood above the rest in the veteran Tilse's eyes – no mean feat considering up to 40 players are currently under the watchful eye of coach Ricky Stuart.
"Luke Page has been training the house down and looking to be a real quality front-rower. I think he might be in for a good year," Tilse said of the former Titans under-20s player.
"I haven't seen much of him play because he's been up north but to get that award he's obviously a real good player. He's like a bull at the gates so it would be exciting to see him get a run."
With Page adding to an already impressive forward pack, Tilse said his presence will add diversity to the team alongside the likes of recruits Soliola, Nuuausala and England international hooker Josh Hodgson.
"There's definitely a greater variety in our team in what is a strong and mobile forward pack. It has been good that [Soliola, Hodgson and Nuuausala] have come from winning cultures because the last two seasons we haven't made the finals," Tilse said.
"To have these guys come in with a different attitude and a winning mentality, I'm hopeful it can rub off onto some of the other boys.
"We have shown we are capable at times so with us improving and these quality players coming in I think things are looking good."
In other positive news for Canberra, Tilse said the recovery from injury for Shillington (pectoral) and Fensom (ACL) was tracking nicely adding that they should be available for selection for the early stages of the season, if not Round 1.
"I know they have been going really well in their rehab and 'Shillo' has done a lot of running because obviously he hurt his pectoral so he's looking fitter than ever," Tilse said.
"But 'Fenno' is probably 50/50 on the start of the year. He's very diligent in his rehab though and he's doing everything he can so it's all looking pretty good there for the both of them."