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Eels recruit Morgan Harper has backed former Sea Eagles teammate Kaeo Weekes to make the Raiders’ five-eighth position his own in 2024.

The pair faced off last weekend for the first time since departing the Sea Eagles at the end of 2023, with Weekes’ move to Canberra fuelled by the opportunity to lock down a starting role and play consistently at NRL level.

Weekes impressed in his first outing in lime green, and Harper believes his speed and tenacity will put the 21-year-old into serious calculations to secure the No.6 jersey for the Raiders’ opening round trip to Newcastle.

“It's good to see him down in Canberra with an opportunity there, he's pretty quick on his feet and there's no doubt he's been working hard down there”, Harper said. 

“I reckon he's a chance to start for them in Round 1, which he deserves because he's a good young kid.”

Raiders recruit Kaeo Weekes at last weekend's match against Parramatta
Raiders recruit Kaeo Weekes at last weekend's match against Parramatta ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Weekes is vying with fellow NRL rookie Ethan Strange to partner vice-captain Jamal Fogarty in the halves, and the pair ensured a selection headache for Raiders coach Ricky Stuart after their performances against the Eels.

“Confidence is a big thing, and Stick [Stuart] has instilled that in me a lot in this preseason, obviously with my running game [and] getting to play eyes up footy”, Weekes said.

“He just told me to play footy and don’t over think it, which is good.

“Hopefully I can secure that No.6 spot, if I can, but wherever the team goes throughout the year, I will put my hand up to play anywhere to support the boys. I just want to be out on the field."

Weekes: 'I've got a big opportunity in front of me'

The Raiders host the Cowboys in Queanbeyan in Round 2 of the Pre-Season Challenge, giving Weekes another chance to develop in the five-eighth role after he was again named alongside Strange.

After being in the Sea Eagles system since his early teens, he said the opportunity to play under Stuart, who is regarded as one of the game’s greatest playmakers, and alongside Fogarty had convinced him to make the move this season.

“Stick has done it all in the game, he’s won premiership rings [as a player], he has taken the club to a grand final [in 2019] so having him as a coach was a big selling point and I am just eager to learn off him,” Weekes said.

“Jamal is a really good leader and he is a really good person, and when I signed at Canberra he was the first one to message me and say, ‘welcome, if you need anything just let me know’. He reached out and made me feel really welcome.

“On the field he is a really good leader and a really good halfback. He leads me around. Having said that we have been doing a lot of swapping and changing, and training against Jamal he is a handful.”

With Weekes being given limited opportunities in the Sea Eagles top-grade side and playing various positional roles, Harper said having a direct focus on the five-eight role and a switch of clubs will bring the best out of the young speedster.

“I think it’s good he’s been brought down to Canberra, to be able to concentrate in that one position. Last year he was jumping around different positions,” he said.

“I think for his growth and confidence, being in one position is going to help him out.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour 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.