Ricky Stuart knows how good his Canberra Raiders team is. And he knows they're good enough to win the NRL grand final.
They didn't quite get the job done against the Sydney Roosters, falling narrowly short 22-18 at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.
It means the Roosters have a grip on second spot on the ladder and a home semi-final.
But having pushed the reigning premiers until the final siren, Stuart's confident they can make an impact come the finals.
The Green Machine will have another chance to prove that next week when they take on the runaway Melbourne Storm in Melbourne, who are three wins clear at the top of the table.
Asked in the post-match press conference where he thought his Raiders sat in the pecking order, Stuart was emphatic.
"If we were playing in a grand final tomorrow I'd be confident," he said.
Asked to expand, he did.
"If we were playing in a grand final against whoever you perceive as the best team do you think we could beat them?" he asked before answering his own question.
"I reckon we can. It didn't happen tonight. But Melbourne on top of the competition, we've got them next week."
It sets up another mouth-watering, top-four contest - just like the one a hardy 19,530 witnessed on Sunday.
It's the biggest Raiders regular season crowd since 2010.
They were there in part for the big game, in part because the Green Machine are starting to role towards finals, but also because it was co-captain Jarrod Croker's 250th game.
They couldn't quite get the win for their leader, who finished the game watching from the sideline after coming off for a head-injury assessment with just three minutes left.
But what the Raiders did get was the perfect preparation for their upcoming finals campaign.
Stuart said there'd been a finals-like hype around the Raiders-Roosters clash and it had delivered on that expectation.
He said it was also an important lesson for the Green Machine as the play-offs approach.
Stuart pointed to the fact the Raiders were able to keep coming against the reigning premiers, despite being 10-points down with 16 minutes remaining.
"It's a good education for a team moving into a really important part of the season," Stuart said.
"What that game does for us is just makes us extremely battle hardened because it's close to semi-final intensity.
"Where this team has improved over the last couple of years with the game in the balance halfway through that second half we could've found it too tough.
"Tonight being 10 points down with not a lot of things going your way it was pretty brave bouncing back and we could've scored another to win it."