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Livewire Starling set to stay in lime green after Raiders table offer

Rising Raider Tom Starling hopes to sign off on a new contract with the club in the coming weeks after making the most of his limited opportunities this season.

The 22-year-old has become a key man in Ricky Stuart's forward pack following the season-ending knee injury to Josh Hodgson in July.

Far from falling in a heap without their inspirational, No.9 the Raiders have won five of their past six with Starling making solid contributions from the bench.

After making his NRL debut for Newcastle late in the 2018 season, Starling arrived in Canberra in 2019 looking to continue his development.

He played three games off the bench mid-season when Hodgson was out with a thumb injury and the Englishman's cruel luck has again opened the door in 2020.

With finals looming, Starling is keen to stay focused on the job at hand but has indicated a willingness to stay in Canberra as a back-up to Hodgson.

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"I spoke to my manager and he got a deal from the club last week but we haven't really sat down and had a good look at it," Starling told

"I don't want any distractions coming with that sort of stuff and just want to focus on my role with a few games left remaining but I'm keen to stay on for sure.

"Obviously when Hodgo was playing it was hard to sit around knowing you were coming off contract and not really being able to prove yourself in reserve grade.

"There's a lot of boys in those tough positions now and I really feel sorry for them.

"They're only getting a little bit of training to prove themselves and a lot of it is going off what you did last year so I'm really grateful to just be getting an opportunity and doing a job for the team."

Starling said Hodgson was playing a pivotal off-field role working with the team behind the scenes.

"He could've easily said 'my season is over' and focused solely on his rehab but he's such a team-oriented fella," Starling said.

"He's in doing video and tipping me up on a few things, he's in every team meeting and doing everything he can.

"When he first went down we really stripped it right back for Liva [Siliva Havili] to start building on our combinations and defence.

"It took a bit of time and I've said it a couple of times but it's not an individual sport and everyone has to do their part for the team to succeed.

"We have to step up in Hodgo's absence and other key players have had to take on a bigger role."

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After defending their way to victories in the first half of the season, the Raiders have broken the shackles with 72 points in their past two games.

They will be looking to continue that trend against the last-placed Bulldogs on Sunday knowing a win will lock up a finals berth and keep them within reach of a top-four finish.

"We're starting to build nicely towards the end of the season for sure but we've got a lot to work on," Starling said.

"We had a few scrappy wins which we sort of needed but we're now starting to build our attack and find some rhythm a bit better which is nice."

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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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