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I'm no Hodgson but Havili better prepared to step into big boots

Siliva Havili happily concedes he's "no Josh Hodgson" but the experience he gained when covering for the injured co-captain in 2018 will help the Raiders kick on without their inspirational leader.  

Havili is the likely man to replace Hodgson in the No.9 jersey after the club confirmed on Sunday afternoon the English international would miss the remainder of the season after a second ruptured ACL in three years.

The Raiders struggled in Hodgson's absence during 2018, winning just five of 14 games without the Englishman's services.

Havili said the side's development over the past 18 months had them better prepared to fill the void – he highlighted their determination in the second half of Saturday night's loss to Melbourne as solid stepping stone. 

"It's going to be big shoes to fill, he's our skipper, a big part of our team and a big-name player," Havili said.

Hodgson leaves field with knee injury

"It's important we stay together, it shows out on the field and hopefully in times like these we come closer.

"It's up to the team with what we can do together. I'm no Josh Hodgson, I'm going to be myself and play to my strengths and do what I can do best.

"I've got to focus on what I can bring to the team. I'm going to have to get back to being more familiar with my role at nine.

"It's about getting some reps in at dummy half with the halves and getting familiar with the forwards."

Match Highlights: Raiders v Storm

Havili is unlikely to play the full 80 minutes a player of Hodgson's calibre would usually get through.

The club also has former Knights hooker Tom Starling in their top-30 squad with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart indicating post-match that he would be in the frame for a bench spot.

"Tommy's good, he's a little fella and full of heart," Havili said.

"He's a funny character and good for us as a team."

Despite enduring one of their worst injury tolls in Stuart's tenure at the club which now also includes winger Bailey Simonsson's season-ending shoulder problem, Havili said the timing was right to face the Roosters.

Thursday's grand final rematch at the SCG won't have the same buzz with several of the Green Machine's players out from last year's match but the controversial ending to last year's decider still lingers at the club.

"I didn't play in the grand final then but these are the teams you want to be playing against," Havili said.

"Where we want to test ourselves as a team moving forward. It's important we get the reps in with these teams moving into the back end of the season.

Stuart: No way Simonsson should have been sent to the bin

"We've only ever talked about the grand final at the beginning of the year and we made it clear that was last year and we leave it where it's at.

"It's a new year, we're not the same team as last year and we can only focus on what we can bring this year.

"There's new combinations and a new team. It will be a different game."

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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