The Canberra Raiders are reportedly one step closer to ensuring the game’s most in-form prop extends his stay in the nation’s capital.

The Canberra Times reports that the club met with Joe Tapine’s management on the weekends to have discussions about a contract extension. The talks are said to have been positive.

Tapine returns from a rib injury this week as the Raiders fight desperately to keep their season alive against Newcastle. The Green Machine know nothing less than three wins will give them a chance of making the finals as they hope for either the Roosters, Eels or Broncos to slip up catastrophically.

It’s a timely return for the most improved prop in the NRL this year, with Tapine leading the league in post-contact metres. He’s also third in offloads and has more overall running metres than any other prop in the competition.

“He did (come to meet) and we started first chats. We caught up with him and had positive meetings,” Raiders chief executive Don Furner told the Times.

Injuries have been a bugbear for the Raiders this year, but the long-term absences of the likes of Jarrod Croker and Josh Hodgson have been counteracted by the emergence of a number of young talents.

The club announced this week that they had extended the contract of custodian Xavier Savage, who has grown in form and confidence since taking the No.1 permanently in Round 12. He’s already shown he’ll be an adept replacement for Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who will return to the Warriors.

The match will also be Ricky Stuart’s first back at the helm following his suspension for comments made about Panthers player Jaeman Salmon in a post-match press conference.