Ricky Stuart has given Josh Papalii the ultimate accolade, declaring he will be remembered as one of the Raiders' all-time greats when he retires.
Stuart was in awe of a play by Papalii which summed up what the club means to him and his extraordinary physical capacity for a big man.
In the second half of Canberra’s 36-16 win over the Titans, Papalii made a 60-metre run to chase down Gold Coast half Jamal Fogarty when he seemed certain to score.
A final desperate lunge by the 28-year-old prop forward clipped Fogarty’s ankles and saved the try.
Papalii has played 212 games for the Raiders with distinction and Stuart said his high praise was not made lightly. The likes of club legends Laurie Daley, Mal Meninga, Bradley Clyde, Glenn Lazarus and Stuart himself have all worn the Canberra jersey.
"Josh Papalii showed with that ankle tap on that young half, in what should have been a try, he showed what this jumper is all about and the character these boys have inside them," Stuart said.
Papalii chases down Fogarty and saves certain try
"Papa will go down as one of our greatest players ever when he retires. He is one of the boys’ favourites. They love playing with him.
"I don’t underestimate anything Josh has got. He has got a wonderful motor. He is a very skilful guy for his size.
"I don’t say that lightly, but he will go down as one of those greats of this club. It is a very deserving accolade or piece of commentary because we have had some greats here."
Papalii’s heroics revealed what is inside him but also what makes the Raiders tick.
"That is within us. That is a part of our makeup," Stuart said.
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"There is a lot of character in this joint and you can see that with the huge amount of injuries we’ve had this year, the adversity with our travel that we have had this year.
"I don’t say that for a shoulder to cry on. I say it for a fact. We have had a real tough year this year. The way they have stuck together these blokes I couldn’t be prouder as a coach."
There were those who put a line through the Raiders when star hooker Josh Hodgson succumbed to a season-ending knee injury but the form of Siliva Havili and Tom Starling in the dummy-half position has impressed Stuart, which is all that counts.
"I have never been concerned with what others think and they don’t see what we have got here in regards to our individuals, our character and our training," Stuart said.
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"Siliva and Tommy have been wonderful in filling in the role for probably one of the world’s best hookers at the moment in Josh."
Stuart said that there was better to come and needed to be from his side.
"We have still got a way to go. We are nowhere where we need to be if we are going to be a threat in the semis," he said.
"I was happy with the scoreboard at the end of the game but I thought that we never really found any consistent groove in our game."