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Raiders forward Siliva Havili.

Raiders utility forward Siliva Havili is looking to add a few more strings to his bow following a breakout season at hooker in 2018.

The Tonga international surprised plenty – himself included – by succeeding as an 80-minute hooker in the first half of 2018 while first-choice No.9 Josh Hodgson was working his way back from a knee reconstruction.

Hodgson's mid-season return saw Havili revert to a smaller-minute role, predominantly as a middle forward off the bench.

Havili anticipates building on this role in 2019 with Hodgson back to full fitness.

"I was just happy to play every game last year," Havili told

"I didn't think I would do that, I didn't think I would play 80-minute games then from hooker, playing in the middle.

"I'm just grateful because the club gave me the opportunity to do that. It's a similar role moving into next year."

Canberra Raiders: 2018 by the numbers

However, coming off his best season personally, the 25-year-old says he can take in a different mindset to the coming year.

"I want to add a bit more to my game now, [focus on] what I can do to help the team. Individually I want to play my best footy. It's time for me to move ahead and work a bit more on my game.

"I just want to be real mobile, bring a bit more speed around my game, bring impact off the bench or where I can, with my attack and defence I need to be more explosive. I know I can get to that stage if I do the hard work now."

Canberra gave me the mindset to come as you are, to add things to my game

Raiders forward Siliva Havili

Havili agreed 2018 was his best year as a player following two-year stints with the Warriors (2014-15) and Dragons (2016-17) in which he never played more than 10 top-grade games in a season and was selected for none in 2017.

"It's hard enough to play one game of NRL but to play the whole season, that was the biggest tick of the box for me," Havili said.

"The trust I had from these coaches and what they see in me. It gives me a bit more confidence in my game to play the way I know I can play. I just want to improve and repay the club with some good footy and hopefully, I can do that by playing certain roles.

"I've never been this confident. I always had confidence in my ability to play but I was a bit restricted in certain clubs I've been to with the way they wanted me and the weight issues that I have, but Canberra gave me the mindset to come as you are, to add things to my game and what I can add to the team, it definitely gives me the confidence boost I need.

Raiders' top five tries of 2018

"My family love it here in Canberra and I love the club too, they made me feel a lot better than I have."

The elephant in the room for the Raiders heading into 2019 is shaking off yet another season in which late fade-outs cost them a series of winnable games in which they led after 60 – or in plenty of cases 70 or 75 – minutes of contests.

"There's a big effort on that right now, a big emphasis on our defence, not only the players but the trainers and staff," Havili said.

"Why are we losing those games? Why is there a drop in the last 20 of our games, games we can win and should be winning?

"We can see that right throughout our training, our video sessions, everything we're doing is defence-focused and a big focus on defensive mentality.

"We're all on board, we all want to improve as a playing group, we don't like losing, especially in the last 20 or last two minutes of a game so we're all on board and hopefully we can address it."

Raiders forward Siliva Havili.
Raiders forward Siliva Havili. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Havili suggested the issue was more in the mental side rather than a physical fade-out.

"We were physically there, we showed that through our physicality and we were pretty good scoring points, it's about changing the mindset to defence and how we can get that mindset of stopping a try or [managing] field position, for us it's a big focus this pre-season," he added.

"We know the points are in us, we've got a lot of attacking weapons, we play an exciting brand of footy.

"Defence is all about attitude and we need to have that attitude to defend well, defend our line as well as scoring tries and if we can do that the points will come behind it."

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