A season-ending injury to Canberra Raiders captain Josh Hodgson proved disastrous for the 2019 NRL Grand Finalists but they know they have a more than viable replacement in young gun, Tom Starling.
Coach Ricky Stuart has anointed the 22-year-old as the man to replace Canberra's inspirational leader and he will form a formidable dummy-half partnership with Siliva Havili in 2020.
Starling has long been regarded as a player who could carve a successful path in the NRL, having made his first-grade debut with the Newcastle Knights in Round 25 of the 2018 season.
He earned a train and trial contract with the Raiders at the end of that campaign, and such was his impressive form throughout the pre-season that he earned a spot in the club's Top 30 squad.
He played a crucial role in the Raiders' upset 24-20 victory over the Sydney Roosters in Round 10 – made all the more impressive as it was his first NRL match in over 12 months.
Starling has already built an impressive Rugby League resume over the course of his career, recording 44 appearances for the Knights and Mounties in the Canterbury Cup NSW, and was a CABE NSW Under 18s representative in 2016.
Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler recently compared his playing style to that of representative star Damien Cook, which paints a telling picture of his unwavering potential and promising future in the NRL.