Tongue facing fight for Raiders No.9 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tongue facing fight for Raiders No.9

Steve Jancetic 02/08/2011 06:11:44 PM Comments (0)

The heart and soul of Canberra could soon be without a home, with Raiders skipper Alan Tongue running out of options in the green machine's NRL line-up.

Having already been shuffled to hooker to accommodate the emerging Shaun Fensom, Tongue has Glen Buttriss gunning for his No.9 jumper.

Buttriss has been a standout off the bench in 2011 but, after signing a new two-year deal with the club on Tuesday, he made little secret of his desire to snare a starting role.

"I'd like to push for the starting position and try and be consistent enough to make the team each week," Buttriss said.

"At the moment it's working well with Alan Tongue starting and me coming off the bench, but I'd like to start the games as my career goes on."

Tongue is on contract with the Raiders through to the end of next season but, two months shy of his 31st birthday, his days in the NRL appear to be nearing an end.

Canberra's most famous red-head before Julia Gillard's rise to the Prime Ministership, Tongue has been an institution in the lime green since debuting in 2000, a player renowned for his toughness and competitiveness.

But he is no longer the tackling-machine he once was, having made in excess of 30 tackles just four times this year.

A specialist hooker, Buttriss' work out of dummy half this season has been crisp and precise, with his influence in the Raiders' recent comeback win over St George Illawarra telling.

Asked if Buttriss was being groomed to replace Tongue, Raiders coach David Furner gave the 25-year-old a ringing endorsement.

"Yeah, you've got it.

"Both Alan and Glen have been sharing that role. Glen's got a good opportunity there to make that long-term nine (his own)."

Buttriss' re-signing continues a strong period of retention for the Raiders, with Blake Ferguson, Jarrod Croker, David Shillington and Fensom having all agreed to new deals in recent times.

The Raiders are still holding out hope of keeping Josh Dugan beyond next season, but Furner said he was happy with how the roster was shaping up for next year and beyond.

This year was about retention rather than recruitment, so it's been a drawn out affair (with Buttriss)," Furner said.

"I think it's good. Glen's been a big part of this club for quite a while."

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