CANBERRA co-captain Elliott Whitehead is looking to help ease the playmaking load on the Raiders' makeshift 'spine' as he looks to adjust to life in the no.13 jumper.
The England international has forged a reputation as one of the game's most reliable back rowers in his first six years in the NRL, but has been moved to the middle this season.
A lock acting as a 'link-man' in attack has become commonplace in the game, with the likes of Penrith's Isaah Yeo, Rooster Victor Radley and Manly's Jake Trbojevic leading the way.
Whitehead is a long way off that level, but he hopes adding a pass to his game will help ease the load on five-eighth Jack Wighton.
The Raiders' spine has taken a battering with hooker Josh Hodgson ruled out for the season, while young halfback Brad Schneider has been blooded after off-season recruit Jamal Fogarty suffered a knee injury.
However, Whitehead knows he can't have much impact against Melbourne in Wagga on Saturday if the Raiders continue their error-prone start to the year.
"That's the role I'm trying to play (passing more) at the moment, but I've only had a chance to show that in a couple of games so far," Whitehead said.
"With us not holding the ball, it takes a lot out of me in defence when I'm adjusting to playing the middle. But the games I have showed it, I think it's been good, and hopefully I can keep improving.
"(Hopefully) it takes some pressure off them (spine), especially with Jacko (Wighton) trying to control everything with an experienced half.
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"We're still learning how it all fits and we probably want to be a bit further ahead with it than we are at the moment, but we'll get there.
"We're kind of starting from scratch again basically, getting to know how Schneider likes to play and with Frawls (Matt Frawley) playing hooker, he's a lot different to Hodgso. I don't think we're too far off."
Whitehead is confident his impact will grow as he adjusts to the greater physical demands of playing in the middle.
"The last couple of weeks I've felt better, the first week it definitely got me," he said.
"Hopefully I get used to that role and trying to conserve energy when I can, rather than running around like a headless chicken."
It sounds basic, but simply holding the ball has been the catch cry for the Raiders as they look to bounce back from a 25-6 loss to Manly in Mudgee.
Errors and ill-advised offloads cost them in the second half.
"We were disappointed with the result and our showing in Mudgee and we'll be looking to redeem that," Whitehead said.
"Every time we've played a game where we've kept hold of the ball this year, we've been dangerous.
"It's something we have to fix up against a side like Melbourne, we can't give them too much easy ball.
"We do have the capability of beating any team. We're just giving away too much cheap ball."
Tickets to the match are available through Ticketek.
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