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England's duo hail Canberra coach Stuart

AAP logoAAP 10/11/2016 Ian McCullough

England forwards Josh Hodgson and Elliot Whitehead have credited Canberra coach Ricky Stuart with elevating their careers to new heights since joining the Raiders.

The pair will line up against Australia on Sunday (Monday 0100, AEDT) in a game the home side have to win to have any chance of booking a place in the final at Anfield on November 20.

Hodgson enjoyed a stellar second season in the nation's capital last year, helping the Raiders to the finals and earning the praise of Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga who declared he and Cameron Smith were the two best hookers in the game.

"Ricky has been massive for me, " said Hodgson.

"One thing he is very big on is family and making sure that you're good outside of rugby league.

"He's a funny bloke and he gets a bad rap in the press for being a cranky bloke but he only gets cranky if you do anything wrong for him - so he's alright with me!

"He's been really good for me and brought me on as a senior player in the team and given me a lot of responsibility and that's added to my game massively.

"I've got a lot of time for Ricky and will sing his praises whenever I can."

Like Hodgson, Whitehead has blossomed since joining Canberra from Super League side Catalans, who he signed for after being shown the door by hometown club Bradford in 2013.

He played a significant role in the Raiders' best season in over 20 years, appearing in every single minute, bar two, across 27 matches and believes that experience in the NRL will be crucial on Sunday.

"Me and Josh were talking about that the other day," Whitehead said.

"We need to complete our sets otherwise you will get no field position and that is something we know from playing in the NRL.

"Ricky has been great for me, he's done everything he can for me and my girlfriend to help us settle and is only ever a phone call away if we need anything.

"He wants to make it like a family down there and there's a great set of lads and they are buying into what he is doing."

Whitehead also agrees with Meninga's comments about Hodgson and even joked the hooker will have his own bronze statue outside GIO Stadium alongside the Kangaroos coach.

"He's been brilliant week in, week out," he said.

"He's shown in the best competition in the world what he can do.

"He's the most professional player I've played with. He's the first one out for training and always the last one back in after doing extras.

"They'll probably have a statue of him up there when he's done."

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