GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29: Corey Harawira-Naera of the Raiders looks on during the round 12 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Canberra Raiders at Central Coast Stadium, on May 29, 2021, in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Corey Harawira-Naera has lived on the edge his entire NRL career, flirting between the back-row and centre, however the Kiwi is ready to make the middle his own in 2023.

The 27-year-old has fought off challengers Corey Horsburgh and rookie Trey Mooney for the starting lock role, named in the No. 13 for Canberra's Round 1 against North Queensland on Saturday.

It's an unfamiliar role for Harawira-Naera, who's start in the middle in just five of his 114 NRL games, playing predominantly on the right edge throughout his six-season career.

Elliott Whitehead and Hudson Young have the back-row spots sewn up as the club continues to try and recruit David Fifita from the Titans, meaning if 'CHN' doesn't move into a new role, he faces coming off the bench or worse for the Raiders.

The former Panther and Bulldog was eager to start again after coming from the interchange bench in nine of his last 11 NRL games, as well as starting at hooker for the Maori All Stars early last month.

It's a goal he can tick off early in the year.

"I've been in Stick's ear about working my way back into the starting team... that's the first goal, to get back in the starting team, then just playing good footy," Harawira-Naera told AAP.

"I want to be a player that plays at least a seven out of 10 every week and doesn't drop.

"I've been pretty guilty in the past of having like a blinder one week and then going missing the following week. I've challenged myself to be a bit harder on myself."

Canberra gave Harawira-Naera a second chance after Canterbury sacked him over a schoolgirl sex scandal after just one season at the club.

The Bulldogs terminated his contract, however the back-rower fought the dismissal and won before requesting an immediate release to the nation's capital.

The 27-year-old hasn't looked back since.

However, a stint in the NSW Cup last season gave the forward an immediate wake-up call, and made him realise he needed to be more consistent week-to-week if he was to become a regular starter once again.

"I'm glad I'm finally bloody aware of it (his consistency)... I'm getting a bit older and more self-aware," Harawira-Naera said.

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 01: Corey Harawira-Naera of the Raiders looks on during the round 12 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Canberra Raiders at QCB Stadium on August 01, 2020 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

"It could be a little bit of complacency ... you relax during the week and then go on to the next game thinking it's just gonna happen again, instead of doing all the hard work.

"That's the theme for me this year, to train every session pretty tough, at a high intensity and hopefully just carry them to every game."

Harawira-Naera will start at lock in Townsville on Saturday afternoon, and aim to keep his unblemished record intact after winning all four games in Canberra when starting in the middle.