The Canberra Raiders have locked up the future of young debutant forward Hohepa Puru.

Puru, who was off-contract at the end of 2023, made his NRL debut late in the season during Round 27 against the Cronulla Sharks, and then backed up in the first week of the finals as the Raiders' season came to an end at the hands of the Newcastle Knights.

Rated as one of the brightest young talents at the club alongside another young forward in Ata Mariota, Puru's signing by the Raiders locks him in until the end of 2024, with an option to continue his tenure in the nation's capital until at least the end of 2025.

His signing, while no doubt helped by his NRL debut, comes on the back of a strong year in the NSW Cup. He has shown his ability in the front row, but can also line up at hooker, lock or in the halves, potentially making him an excellent option off the bench for head coach Ricky Stuart in the next 12 to 24 months as he adjusts to more first grade responsibilities.

“I'm in a great routine at training. The coaching staff are helping me, and the playing group talk to me really well,” Puru said in a statement confirming his re-signing.

“Making my debut this season was an awesome experience and I want to do my best to play more NRL games for the Raiders.”

The Raiders have made it clear they want to become a development club, with recent comments indicating they are also going to put trust in their young brigade to replace Jack Wighton, instead of making a play for Jarome Luai.

The club's recruitment manager Joel Carbone said Puru was the next on that list, and that he had the trust of coaches and teammates.

“This is incredibly well deserved for Pep, considering how much he impressed in his first year with the club - he came in on a training contract, dominated the NSW Cup competition and earned an NRL debut,” Carbone said.

“Most importantly though, he earned the trust of the coaches and his teammates through his hard work and his character. He is an impressive young man and we're very glad to have him here at the club.”

Puru and Mariota will be part of the club's long-term solution, with that likely needing to be fasttracked at the end of 2024 as Josh Papalii likely prepares for retirement.