The Canberra Raiders have finally handed young 18-year-old Ethan Strange his NRL debut this week in a crucial clash against the Melbourne Storm.

Replacing the injured Seb Kris in the centres, Strange has been hailed as the future of the Raiders and is the likeliest contender to take over the five-eighth role at the club once Jack Wighton departs for the South Sydney Rabbitohs next season.

Strange made headlines earlier this season when he scored a hattrick for the NSW Blues in the annual Under 19s State of Origin against Queensland, putting to bed any critics who don't see him as a future superstar of the game. The Central Coast product would end up earning man-of-the-match honours for the representative game.

After narrowly defeating the Wests Tigers this week, the Raiders will be eager to bounce back against the Storm, who will regain Queensland winger Xavier Coates and New Zealand international halfback Jahrome Hughes.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart spoke about what it was like when he notified Strange he would be making his first-grade debut earlier in the week before the team list was announced on Tuesday afternoon.

"He got a little rattled. There was a pause there, sort of in disbelief," Stuart said via The Canberra Times.

"Then Elliott said to him: 'You're allowed to cry, you know?' I spoke to his father two weeks ago and said to him 'I feel Ethan is ready, it's just a matter of the opportunity arising'. I had a good discussion with his dad about it."

In a blockbuster must-win clash for both clubs, if they are to secure a spot in the top four, the Raiders will take on the Melbourne Storm on Sunday afternoon.