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Nail starting spot and repay loyalty on re-signed Young's to-do list

Hudson Young's 2021 goals include nailing down a starting edge forward spot, extending his stay at the Raiders to repay their faith in him and of course – to win a premiership.

He's sorted out the contract already with Canberra announcing on Thursday he has agreed to a new deal until the end of 2024.

The 22-year-old had a serious breakout season in 2020, proving a revelation through the middle after shifting in from an edge but with the club's middle forward stocks replenished after an injury wave last year, Young wants to take over John Bateman's old spot in the pack.

"With John leaving last year, I was close with him and he let me know early on what he was doing so that straight away, I wanted to make it mine," Young told NRL.com.

"From the start of the pre-season my goal was to try and lock down and edge spot.

"I've been training that edge. I've started a little bit in the middle (previously) but mainly edge at the moment.

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"I played edge all through 20s and younger grades so I'd say I'm more of a natural edge player than a middle but I feel comfortable at lock as well."

Young started five games in the back row while Bateman was out last year, producing serviceable but relatively quiet performances but from round 12 was used at lock, prop and as a middle of the bench with formidable results.

He churned out some huge numbers with the team winning nine of 12 games from that point.

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"When I first came back last year I had a bit of a knee injury," Young explained.

"As my confidence and time in the NRL increased, that's where you get your confidence and your teammates start backing you and you start playing your game rather than just trying not to do anything wrong."

While the edge role is a tougher challenge to master, according to Young, having both strings to his bow can only be a positive.

"Being out wide is a bit harder because you have to play 80 minutes and build those combinations with your nine, seven and one so that's what I've been trying to do this pre-season and hopefully round one I can start on the edge and we can get the win," he said.

"Being able to play a couple of positions helps me and that's the way I like doing it, I like being able to play both sides of the field."

Young said he hadn't even spoken to any other clubs before finalising his three-year extension, with the two-way loyalty shown by both parties already in his burgeoning career a big factor.

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"The culture here and the boys are all so tight, it's a great team and a great club," he said.

"They gave me a chance to come down here and be an NRL player and stood by me when I was going through some stuff so I want to repay them in that way as well."

That club loyalty included coach Ricky Stuart defending him to the hilt after a couple of early-career eye-gouge suspensions.

"Sticky and the boys defended me publicly and told everyone that's not the sort of player and person I was. I think being loyal is a good thing when people have stuck by you," he said.

"Now I want to nail down that starting spot within the team and obviously finish in the top four and go on to win the comp."

 

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