NRL: Could Canberra Raiders rookie Nick Cotric be player of the year?

NRL: Could Canberra Raiders rookie Nick Cotric be player of the year?

Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has already said rookie winger Nick Cotric has been one of their best this season, but could he go on to win the Mal Meninga Medal?

Former Cronulla premiership winning hooker Michael Ennis thought he could "without a doubt, without a doubt".

Cotric had another stunning game, running for 125 metres with one line break and a try.

He capped off a nice break from second-rower Joe Tapine to score in the corner, and almost went 70m to score a second, only to be pulled down by Angus Crichton, who would then get sin binned for a professional foul.

Nikola Cotric slides over to score for the Raiders.

Nikola Cotric slides over to score for the Raiders. Credit:AAP

It meant he's scored a try six games in a row - a feat last achieved by a Raiders player in 1998 when Brandon Pearson managed it.

The 18-year-old's yet to miss a game in his maiden season and has made the left wing his own outside his prolific captain Jarrod Croker.

Cotric's scored 13 tries this season - just one less than Jordan Rapana, who's arguably the best winger in the NRL.

Both Rapana and Josh Papalii, who tied for the Raiders' best-and-fairest award with Josh Hodgson last season, would also be strong contenders for the Meninga Medal.

Is this the beginning?

Raiders celebrate after scoring a try.

Raiders celebrate after scoring a try.Credit:AAP

Could the win over South Sydney be the start of a Green Machine charge to the finals?

The eighth-placed Dragons' loss to Newcastle leaves them two wins out of the eight and the Raiders probably need to win all five of their remaining games to make the finals.

This week will give the best indication of whether they can when they face Cronulla at Cronulla.

While the Sharks are the reigning premiers, they haven't been overly impressive at home this season having won just five of their 10 games there.

Last season the Raiders won 10 in a row going into the finals and if they match that streak it will take them to the premiership.

Croker chasing Croker​​

Jarrod Croker of the Raiders.

Jarrod Croker of the Raiders.Credit:AAP

As the records continue to tumble, it's hard to imagine Raiders captain Jarrod Croker is just 26 years old.

His first-half try drew him level with former Canberra fullback Brett Mullins with 105 career tries - second on the club's all-time list of four-pointers.

It means the prolific centre needs just 15 more to equal Raiders legend Jason Croker who sits on top of the heap.

Not cold enough

Ricky Stuart of the Raiders look on from the coaches box.

Ricky Stuart of the Raiders look on from the coaches box.Credit:Brendon Thorne

Unusually, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart decided to sit in the coach's box instead of taking up his usual post on the sideline.

When asked about why the change, Stuart was quick to quip that it wasn't cold enough for him.

Maybe he had the aircon turned down to the near-freezing temperatures that he's become accustomed to deep in the Canberra winter.​

Raiders and Rabbitohs turn angels

Canberra Raiders' Sia Solioala was given a five-week ban.

Canberra Raiders' Sia Solioala was given a five-week ban.Credit:AAP

It was a heart-warming start the game, with both Raiders captain Jarrod Croker and Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook leading out children with Angelman Syndrome.

The only shame was not seeing big-hearted Canberra forward Sia Soliola, who was watching from the stands due to his suspension.

Both Soliola and Cook are ambassadors for the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics and the game was used to raise money and awareness for the genetic condition.


It highlighted how much work Soliola does for the community.

The money raised will go towards a clinical trial for a drug to treat the symptoms of Angelman Syndrome and donations can be made at the FAST website,

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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