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Ricky Stuart believes Josh Papalii is the best player in the competition

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart believes front-rower Josh Papalii is the best player in the game following his stand out performance in the Raiders’ preliminary final win over South Sydney.

Papalii was instrumental in his team’s 16-10 win running for 179 metres and making 35 tackles as well as scoring the match-sealing try to help Canberra move through to their first grand final in 25 years.

After losing 14 games in their last two seasons by four points or less, the Raiders have been one of the biggest improvers in 2019 on the back of their strong off-season recruitment and improvement in defence.

Stuart told The Continuous Call Team consistency is the reason behind Papalii and his team’s success this year.

“I’m happy to say that I honestly believe he’s the best player in the competition,” Stuart said.

“We often look at halfbacks, five-eighth’s and fullbacks, they’re the glamour positions but we don’t compliment our players who play in the toughest positions on the field enough.

“Because they may only play 55 or 60 minutes in the middle, they probably don’t get the wrap they deserve but I think Josh Papalii is the best football player in the competition.

“He’s been our best player all year and I haven’t seen a player more consistent on the footy field this year than Josh, especially with the position that he’s playing in.

“What’s the difference this year? The difference is after the last two seasons, Josh and I sat down to have a discussion about his best playing weight.

“Him achieving that, it’s a big job for Josh to keep at that best playing weight because he puts on weight easy and he has to be very disciplined off the field.”

Papalii has played 25 games this season and is averaging 13 runs, 147 metres and 28 tackles per game, while also representing Queensland during the State of Origin series.

Canberra will play either the Roosters or Melbourne in next Sunday’s NRL Grand Final at ANZ Stadium.

 

Click ‘play’ to hear the full interview below.

 

The Raiders also exclusively confirmed Mal Meninga will be blowing the horn for the viking clap at ANZ Stadium next Sunday.

Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.

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