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Raiders' Starling keen to hook in at No.9

By Alex Mitchell
Tom Starling is aiming to succeed Parramatta-bound Josh Hodgson at No.9 for Canberra next season. (AAP)

Canberra hooker Tom Starling is looking to take his game to a new level as his team prepares for life after Josh Hodgson.

The 23-year-old seems poised to be the Raiders' long-term No.9 after Hodgson heads to Parramatta next season, but is continuing to build his workload and become an 80-minute player.

Starling is currently impressing off the bench after utility Adam Elliott goes around.

He has played approximately 60 minutes in six of nine games this campaign, averaging a career-high 51 metres this season primarily from dummy-half scoots for a try, two try assists and two line breaks.

Starling admits he is still learning how to change from an explosive bench operator to an 80-minute field general who can steer his side through any situation.

"It's just one of the things that comes with experience, a lot of No.9s know how to conserve their energy and still be productive later on in the game, so that's something I'm working on," he told reporters.

"Picking my moments when I can be 100-mile-an-hour and then also when I need to tone it back a little bit ... if anyone knows me, I'm 100-mile-an-hour ... so it's one of the things that I'm just gonna keep building.

"When you start you've got to try and conserve the energy because you know you've got longer minutes.

"When I come off the bench, I know I can go on there and bounce around and do what I need to do, it's just a different role and I feel like I can adapt to both of them."

Elliott, who began the season in a bench forward role, has also shone in his first two games at hooker, running for a season-high 123m and 140m in back-to-back weeks.

"He's going good Ads, he's always energetic in everything he does," Starling said.

"He's playing his role for his team which is all we ask around here ... he's doing really well and I'm enjoying sharing that role with him.

"(Coach Ricky Stuart) just identified that he will start the game there and let me come on and play my natural role there and bring a bit of spark onto the field and play the rest of the game there."

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