With his future in Canberra now secured Jamal Fogarty is embracing the opportunity to be the senior half in a team for the first time, as he prepares to help usher in the next generation of playmakers at the Raiders.
A new two-year deal announced this week will ensure the 29-year-old remains in the nation’s capital for at least the next two seasons, with an option for the club to keep him for 2026 as well.
It comes as Fogarty prepares to lead the Raiders around the park next season beside a halves partner who will likely have less than 20 games of NRL experience to their name, following the off-season departures of star playmaker Jack Wighton and backup half Matt Frawley.
Nineteen-year-old rookie Ethan Strange and off-season recruits Simi Sasagi and Kaeo Weekes are set to compete for the vacant No.6 jersey, with Fogarty to assume a new senior role that comes after he has spent majority of his 80 games to date alongside more experienced halves partners in Ash Taylor and Wighton.
"It’s going to be very different and it's going to be a challenge, but it is something I am looking forward to," Fogarty told NRL.com.
Fogarty controls the game
"It definitely is [my first time in this position], even at the Titans I had young Ash who had played close to 100 games when I got there, and he was the dominant half.
"My role will have to change and evolve. I need to take ownership and be dominant.
When this team has got clarity and direction, we are a really good team. But there has been a couple of times in the last two seasons when I haven’t done that so well in games and we have kind of fallen off the wagon.Jamal Fogarty
"These kids are only just starting their careers and I am definitely at the other end, but hopefully I can give them a lot of confidence and clarity,
"Hopefully they can take that into their own game, because in a couple of years they are going to be the ones taking over."
While the signing of Weekes from the Sea Eagles and Sasagi from the Knights has added depth to the halves, none of the three frontrunners for the five-eighth spot are specialist playmakers.
Weekes has played mostly as a fullback or interchange player in his first two seasons, while Sasagi was used almost exclusively off the bench at Newcastle.
Strange meanwhile played 11 of his 16 reserve-grade games as a five-eighth last season but made his NRL debut as a centre and was used in the backline at representative level for the NSW under 19s.
Fogarty said each player brings a unique skillset to the role and who gets the nod will depend greatly on the style the new-look squad develops over the pre-season.
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'Sticky (coach Ricky Stuart) will decide how we play and that will determine what kind of five-eighth we need," Fogarty said.
"It’s a matter of us understanding how we want to play as a team and us as individuals in the halves executing that.
"Ethan has a different skillset to the others. He is real strong and fast and a good ball runner... he is a little nuggety fella so he will try and use his size to run and break tackles.
Who is Ethan Strange? This is Ethan Strange
"Kaeo has the skills and speed. I like Kaeo’s kicking game, he has got a nice kick on him and that is definitely something that will help me.
"Simi has been training in the halves and has got real good skills on the ball and has raw speed too."
Fans are likely to get their first glimpse of the trio auditioning for the role during the Pre-season Challenge, with the Raiders set to face the Eels on February 17 and Cowboys on February 25.