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Eels hooker Ray Stone.

Eels utility forward Ray Stone never played dummy half until asked by coach Brad Arthur to add an extra string to his bow – but was more than happy to do so with the carrot of a regular NRL berth dangling.

The 23-year-old Moss Vale Dragons junior only started to jump into hooker at training last year having played lock or second row since his schoolboy days.

"It was good to get some minutes this week," Stone told NRL.com.

"It's sort of been a real slow introduction [to playing hooker]. I never played dummy half up until a couple of years ago. Pretty much been in the forward pack since I was about 16.

"I was just always doing stuff at training, doing extras, passing out of dummy half.

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"On my debut I sort of got chucked there as a last-minute thing so now it's one of my positions I'm looking at playing. I'm trying to learn as much as I can and just keep improving."

Stone spent nearly half an hour at hooker in the 14-0 win over Melbourne in round 15 - the first time since round four that Reed Mahoney has not played the full 80 minutes.

"I think it just depends how Reed's going," Stone added.

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"He's very professional in what he does. He does all the right things at training.

"I reckon he could have played 80 minutes [against Melbourne] but he's so young, his 50th game, just for his longevity it's probably a good idea to give him a little rest here and there.

"I'm only there if that needs to happen, my role is still to play lock or second row. Me being able to play hooker gives me that 14 spot which is what I want. If something was to happen to Reedy in a game I need to make sure I'm confident I can fill that spot.

"I said at the start of the year I wanted to be in the 17 every week and the biggest thing that was going to get me in the 17 was being able to play in that hooker role.

"I can play lock or back row but if I can play hooker as well it gives me more versatility which is what Brad wants from me."

After his 15th career game and eighth of the season, the other goal for Stone was rebuilding his match fitness after missing four games with a broken thumb.

"I had to get my game fitness back up but my hand's pulled up sweet." he said.

"I haven't had any dramas with it coming back. I think now it's just getting my match fitness back up.

"I got a T-plate in and however many screws just to hold the bone together. I was back training within two or three weeks."