Blues centre Jack Wighton.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said the performances of Jack Wighton as part of the winning New South Wales side this year were a testament to the person he has become off the field.

Much has been written about the 26-year-old's fall from grace and subsequent turnaround to make his State of Origin debut in game one in Brisbane.

"I'm always singing Jack's praises only because I know how good he is," Stuart said.

"I often talk to young kids in regard to them developing and maturing into football players at an NRL level and I say to them 'you play your football the way you live your life off the field', and Jack's doing that.

"I've been involved with a lot of different scenarios and individuals and I can only give so much advice, the individual has to do it.

"They either listen or they don't, but I'm really proud of where Jack's got to now from a club point of view because he's not just a representative but one who really contributes to the result."

Stuart said the success of Wighton this year, on top of Nick Cotric making his Origin debut, the continued excellence of Josh Papalii and the burgeoning international talent from England will ensure a culture of sustained excellence at the Raiders.

"I think it helps us as a team, to be successful in winning competitions I believe you have to have the experience in big games, representative players," he said.

"For us to be a force in the competition we have to have to have players with success in big matches and we're starting to grow there in that area.

"Internationals from England and Josh and Jack, they help our journey."

Speaking ahead of their clash with the Dragons on Sunday at WIN Stadium, Stuart said the growing maturity in the squad was shone through in the wake of their last-start loss to Parramatta.

Rather than the coach needing to point out what went wrong, having given up a 16-0 lead, Stuart said the senior players took it upon themselves to own up for their mistakes.

He said that attitude will stand them in good stead as they look to find the consistency that characterised their first six weeks of the season.

"The biggest part of our growth this year has been the maturing of the players," Stuart said.

"They didn’t need to hear too much from me, they were hard enough on themselves and to me that's where the growth in our senior players is growing on our younger players coming through."

Cotric is expected to play having been named in the run-on team as he looks to strike up his combination with John Bateman and Jordan Rapana on the right edge.

"He'll have a final test today, but I am very confident, I am sure he will play," Stuart said.

"Having another player of his quality coming back from injury is always a bonus."