Matt Frawley is relishing the opportunity to play at hooker this season for the Canberra Raiders, with the utility starting in the number nine jersey last weekend against the Gold Coast Titans.
After Josh Hodgson sustained a season-ending ACL injury in round one, Frawley has now slotted into the starting 17, lining up alongside Tom Starling.
The pair have shared the dummy half role, giving coach Ricky Stuart two different options to use depending on the state of a game.
After a full pre-season training in the position as cover for both Hodgson and Starling, the halfback turned hooker has enjoyed the opportunity that he has been afforded.
“Obviously it's a bit of a different role for me but I've done a bit of preparation in the off-season and with Josh out it has given me a chance to play there,” Frawley said.
“I have really enjoyed it and there is still plenty to work on, but it has been good to get out there and get some minutes.”
When asked what the biggest challenge was in his new role, Frawley was clear that it has been the added responsibility in defence that has been the most apparent.
“Defending in the middle, obviously it is a lot more work. Just knowing how to handle that side of the game is the biggest adjustment,” Frawley said.
“Attacking wise it's probably a little bit simpler for me. It's just making sure my services are good and getting the ball to Jack and Brad when they want it and to our big boys so probably the biggest adjustment would be defensively.”
Whilst Frawley hasn’t played much dummy half over the past few years it is not a new position for him, having played the role at stages in his Canberra junior career.
“My first year of under 20’s here I played hooker and then sort of went back into the halves. I played one or two games there in the Super League when we had some injuries,” he said.
“Filling in this year is the first year I’ve done a full pre-season and I’m really thankful that I was able to do that.”
Frawley and the squad now head off to play two consecutive weeks of country football, playing against Manly in Mudgee this Saturday night before coming up against Melbourne in Wagga Wagga next weekend.
Frawley believes that the more football played in the country the better, giving rural fans the opportunity to watch the best players the league has to offer.
“I think it's something that the NRL needs to look into doing more to be honest. Without the City Country anymore the country towns don't get the footy that they probably deserve,” Frawley said.
“We are going out to Mudgee this week and Wagga the week after, so we have back-to-back rounds going out to the country. The boys are looking forward to it and there's normally some good crowds and atmosphere so it will be great.”
Looking towards this weekend’s game against the Sea Eagles, Frawley and the squad are aware of the challenges that Manly pose and are ready to make it three wins from their first four matches.
“They obviously have strike across the park. Tom Trbojevic at the back, Foran and Daly Cherry-Evans are world class players. We are going to have to be on our game,” Frawley said.
“They haven’t had the greatest of starts but they have still played some really good football in patches. We are going to have to be at our best, and it is just exciting to be able to go out to Mudgee and play some football.”