Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii has declared his best football is still ahead of him after penning a contract extension that will ensure he finishes his decorated NRL career as a one-club player.
The 28-year-old is now locked in until at least the end of 2024, with an option to play on for an extra year, which would be his 15th at the club, should he choose to do so.
Papalii said playing out his entire career alongside teammates Jack Wighton and Jarrod Croker was a driving factor in his decision to extend his stay at the club, while winning a premiership for the city he now calls home remains number one on his priority list.
"My goal is to get to another grand final and hopefully win that one," Papalii said.
"There's a few of us that started our careers together, me and Jack Wighton especially and then Toots [captain Jarrod Croker] who's a bit older. The prospect of us finishing together, I don't it's been done at a club where three boys have played all their careers together and get to finish together.
"This long-term deal means that becomes a possibility and it's something that I look forward to as well.
"Canberra's been a big part of my life and my career. I'm glad I can re-sign with the club and hopefully play the best four or five years in my career."
Unfounded speculation arose last week suggesting Papalii was keen to finish his NRL in career in Queensland where his parents and in-laws still live.
Wighton's mother Loretta even called her son to make sure the man they call 'Papa' wasn't going anywhere.
"His Mum actually called Jack last week and asked if I was leaving - I told him a bit earlier I said I was going to re-sign," Papalii said.
"We obviously come through the system together. I'm just glad we've got a few more years. "To play all my career with Jack it's been very special, hopefully we can finish up together.
"We're one year apart with the kids and we had our kids pretty early and missed a lot of boys' trips that we couldn't go to. It's a special one - he's a terrific player and he's almost racked up 200 himself.
"We're a tight-knit group. This club's just transformed into not only a playing group but a group of friends who enjoy working together."
Papalii had hoped to lock in a contract extension earlier this year, but those plans were halted when the NRL went into a COVID-enforced lockdown.
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Since the league resumed Papalii has been one of the competition's best front rowers, and has admirably led Canberra's forward pack through a debilitating injury crisis.
It was feared Papalii could miss the rest of this season after injuring his shoulder against the Sydney Roosters two rounds back, although he recovered to play a key role in Saturday's thumping win over the St George Illawarra Dragons which kept Canberra's top-four hopes alive.
His form this season led coach Ricky Stuart to declaring Papalii would go down as one of the greatest ever Raiders following his side's win over the Gold Coast Titans last month.
Raiders chief Don Furner said extending Papalii's deal was a huge coup for the club.
"There's no doubt Josh has developed into one of the all-time greats of our club and he is now recognised among the game's elite superstars," Furner said.
"His commitment to the club and the city of Canberra is wonderful to see and we know we have a player who we can continue to be a big part of our club for years to come."
Canberra's focus will now turn to locking in veteran Sia Soliola and Jordan Rapana, who are both off contract at the end of this season.
Soliola has been named on Stuart's extended bench again ahead of Sunday's clash with the New Zealand Warriors, but is expected to play.
"Sia [has] been my roomie for the last five years as well, and some of his stories put me to bed," Papalii said.
"I've learned a lot from Sia not only as a player but as a person as well given his Polynesian background. Many things I struggled with as a young father, he shared his experiences and things I can learn on the way.
"He's always texting me most days. Train your best and we're all looking up to you and things like that. And then on the other side when we weren't in the bubble, sharing these experiences of be a better father, better person.
"He's definitely a massive mentor of mine."