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Canberra Raiders back-rower Elliott Whitehead.

Not many people can turn down a plate of cakes and scones baked by members of the Country Women's Association (CWA) – but Elliott Whitehead and Sio Soliola managed to do it.

"They're a great group of ladies and they had some beaut-looking scones there," Whitehead told from the Tumburumba-Batlow areas west of the Snowy Mountains that were hit hard by the December-January bushfires.

"But we kept away from them since we're on a pretty strict diet at the moment. I must admit they were pretty hard to stay away from."

Both Whitehead and Soliola are on their way to Perth later this week for the NRL Nines, kicking off on Friday night.

However, first they are part of the Raiders' four-day 'Roads to Regions' tour of fire-affected communities along the western ridges of the Kosciuszko National Park, Tumut River and the NSW far south coast.

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"To be fair I didn't have a full appreciation of the extent of the damage until I arrived here today," Whitehead said on Tuesday.

"It's very upsetting to see what's happened here. But the local community continues to be in such high spirits which I found amazing.

"It's been devastating what's happened to them but they are still so welcoming. It was heartwarming to listen to their stories of what's it been like down here.

"There's a lot of people wanting to help them out and that's a good thing."

Soliola and Whitehead gave a cheque to the Batlow CWA from monies collected at the various Raiders Sports Clubs in the Canberra suburbs of Belconnen, Gungahlin and Weston.

Elliott Whitehead and Sia Soliola present a cheque to the Batlow Country Women's Association.
Elliott Whitehead and Sia Soliola present a cheque to the Batlow Country Women's Association. ©

The CWA has been providing meals for locals who have lost their homes along with knitting pouches for injured or abandoned wildlife.

Soliola and Whitehead then visited schools and later in the day and hosted a junior rugby league clinic.

Tomorrow other Raiders players will visit the Riverina towns of Harden-Murrumburrah, Cootamundra, Tumut and Adelong.

On Thursday the NRL squad – minus the Nines players – will provide dinner for local Rural Fire Service brigades in the Shoalhaven area as well as visiting schools on the NSW far south coast in the Bateman's Bay surrounds.

On Friday the Raiders will train at Hanging Rock in Bateman's Bay before a signing session, followed by school visits to Moruya and Cobargo.

By then Whitehead will be in Perth, captaining the Raiders for the first time.

"I'm always putting my hand up but I've never got the call – until now," he said, with a laugh.

"I've got the nod this time and it's a proud moment for me. We've got a good mix and I hope the younger guys really put themselves forward for a NRL gig this year.

"I played last year in the World Nines so it's given me a taste for it.

"And we've only got one [NRL] trial against the Bulldogs so this will give me a bit more game time and a bit more match fitness."

Game time is something you'd think Whitehead wouldn't need at this point. In four years at the Raiders he's missed only one NRL match.

He reached his NRL 100-game milestone in 2019 and alongside his 177 Super League games (Bradford and Catalans), Whitehead should reach 300 first grade matches in 2020.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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