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If watching Raiders duo Xavier Savage and Seb Kris tear up the left edge on Sunday gave you flashbacks to the Jordan Rapana-Joey Leilua era, then it’s fair to say some off-season homework has paid off.

After studying the 2019 'Leipana' highlights reels over the pre-season, Savage went to coach Ricky Stuart with the belief that he and best mate Kris had the potential to bring a similar spark to the Green Machine’s attack.

With the new edge combination carrying the ball for a combined 352 metres and scoring a try apiece in the Raiders’ emphatic 41-8 win over the Eels, Savage’s study sessions were well worth it.

“In the off-season I was watching a lot of Rapana and Leilua highlights and I started to think to myself a little bit,” Savage said on Sunday.

“It’s really exciting seeing the plays that they could pull off.

I felt like me and Seb could really bring that to the team with that connection and bond out on the field

Xavier Savage

“He’s definitely one of my closer mates off the field and it helps a lot having that trust, that connection and just knowing each other inside and out pretty much.

“I flicked the idea to 'Sticky' and I’m glad he was on board with it."

Returning to first grade in 2024 after injuries limited him to just a single NRL appearance last year, the 21-year-old has been a revelation on Canberra's’ left edge.

Xavier Savage’s Round 5 highlight reel

“I said it at half-time, and I said it again in front of all the boys after the game - I’ve visualised Xavier Savage for three years do what he did tonight,” Stuart told media post-match.

“That’s why I’ve been patient and I’ve cuddled him and tried to get him to his potential.

“Although it’s only one game, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves... but I know the footballer Xavier Savage is.”

Despite being in the box seat to be the Raiders’ long-term fullback before injuries cruelled his 2023 campaign, Savage said his focus is now on cementing his spot on the wing.

“When I broke my jaw last year, Ricky was really good with me and still took me up to Townsville and the Sunny Coast in the first two weeks and kept me around the boys which really helped,” Savage said.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot since when I first moved down here, building into the player that Ricky sees in me.

“And I got a good little wrap at the end of tonight so it’s good to keep him happy and hopefully I can play like that every week.

“I just want to keep being consistent and hopefully earn that jersey, that’s the aim, especially after last year.”

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.