Williams hoping to make No.7 jersey his own at Raiders

Canberra playmaker Sam Williams has often been forced to play second fiddle in the nation's capital but is hopeful a settled combination will deliver his best football at a key stage of his career.

Blake Austin's departure to the English Super League opens the door for Williams, who missed 10 games last year thanks largely to a knee injury, to team up alongside Aidan Sezer in the halves on a more permanent basis.

Williams and Sezer have a 6-5 record as a starting combination across three seasons.

"I wouldn't say it feels different going into the season without Blake because this time of the year Ricky is really good with people who put their hand up regardless of what they've done before," Williams told NRL.com.

"This year is no different, he gives players every opportunity to perform early. It's important I come to training with a positive attitude.

"You're trying to better yourself and whatever happens in round one is up to Ricky. You've got Ata [Hingano] coming back from injury and Jack [Wighton] training with us as well so there are options.

"I'm working well with Aidan at the moment and feel we've got a solid combination to work with if we stay in good health as a spine and have time."

The Raiders finished the 2018 season as the second-best attacking side in the Telstra Premiership, but the 540 points they conceded (fifth worst) played a major role in them missing the finals.

Playing for this club is something I'd love to continue for a few years yet

Raiders halfback Sam Williams

"It doesn't take Einstein to work out we need to fix our defence as a collective group and as a defensive unit, the 13 on the field at a time is where we need to improve," Williams said.

"Having Hodgo [Josh Hodgson] available at this time of the year now too is also massive for us, he controls our team and can make a job in the halves look easy at times.

"We've got a lot of players who have been in first grade for years now and that experience is going to put us in a good position this year."

After seven seasons and 84 games in the NRL - including three stints at the Raiders - Williams' career is again heading into the unknown with the 27-year-old set to come off-contract at the end of 2019.

Williams said he will work to make it hard for the club to let him go a third time.

"I learnt early on that it's [changing teams] part of professional sport," Williams said. "Some blokes are really lucky and have long-term contracts but the general rule is you're going to be without a deal at several times throughout your career.

"Playing for this club is something I'd love to continue for a few years yet and if I train hard and give myself that opportunity in games this season then hopefully we can work something out."

 

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