Canberra Raiders forward and English international star Elliott Whitehead has extended his contract with the Raiders until the end of the 2018 season.

Whitehead, 26, joined the Raiders at the beginning of 2016 after a successful seven seasons in the English Super League and has instantly made an impact in the NRL, playing all 22 matches for the Raiders this year.

He was currently on contract with the club until the end of 2017; however his form and performances in his debut season meant the Raiders made the extension a top priority.  

Whitehead said the way in which the Raiders had performed so far this season was a factor in his decision to extend his contract and said he’s starting to feel like he belongs in the NRL.

“We are building something really good at the club at the moment and I want to be part of that. It was an easy choice for me to extend for another year,” Whitehead said. “I feel like I have adapted very well to the NRL now. Hopefully I can keep improving as a player and keep helping the team out week in week out.

“We have really improved from where we were at the start of the year, especially with defence. We are working a lot harder for each other and it’s showing on the field with the results”

Raiders Recruitment and High Performance Manager Peter Mulholland said the Raiders were excited to have Whitehead remain with the club until the end of 2018 and said he expected him to grow into one of the NRL’s top forwards.

“Elliott has shown in his first season in the NRL that he is up to the standard of the competition and has produced some wonderful football for the club,” Mulholland said. “He’s a skilful forward who gives our right edge and extra attacking threat and he’s played all but two minutes of his first season in the NRL which is a huge achievement.

“We believe we are still to see the best from Elliott and we’re really looking forward to seeing what he can produce for the rest of this season and the next two.”