A self-confessed Brisbane Broncos fan growing up, Canberra Raiders winger Nick Cotric is ready to step into the cauldron of fire for the first time at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Having grown up idolising the likes of Darren Lockyer, Shane Webcke and a young Darius Boyd, the 18-year-old will now take on the likes of Kiwi international Jordan Kahu and speedster James Roberts on the left edge as the Raiders look for their first win against the Broncos at the prestigious ground since 2010.
Fresh after scoring his first try and tasting his first win in the Telstra Premiership, the Valley Dragons junior has looked at home in the top grade despite the Raiders falling short in their opening two matches, before romping to victory over the Tigers at home on the weekend.
One thing the Cooma-born Cotric will stay of clear of this time – should he go over for another four-pointer – is pre-celebrate, after the rookie raised his hand before scoring against the Tigers in the second half.
"Luckily he (coach Ricky Stuart) hasn’t said anything [about the pre-celebration] but I will not be doing that again," Cotric admitted.
"It's all come [around] so quick and I'm very excited [by it all].
"It was a dream come true scoring at home in front of family and fans.
"It (Telstra Premiership) is definitely a lot quicker and the boys are heaps bigger but blokes like [Jarrod] Croker, 'Austo' (Blake Austin), and 'Seze' (Aidan Sezer) have been guiding me through.
"They're such good players to be with and good role models on and off the field."
With the Raiders facing a short five-day turnaround and a travel day to Queensland, Cotric had a simple technique to make sure his body was 100 percent heading into the clash.
"I'll just watch what I eat and hydrate heaps [and have a number of] ice baths," he said.
"Growing up when I was younger I used to be a 'Bronx' fan so it should be good to go up against them.
"[Kahu and Roberts] are great players and he's real fast with Kahu an international too so it's going to be a good test.
"I'm pretty keen… I can't wait."
Try-scoring teammate Jordan Rapana was full of praise for Cotric's start in the top grade and as the right edge remains one of the most potent in the competition, the left side could also begin to produce some dynamic attack of their own with the return of skipper Jarrod Croker and Maroons forward Josh Papalii both fit and firing.
"I could see him (Cotric) from the other side I think he chucked his hand up for a little pre-celebration so I'm sure he was pretty pumped," Rapana said.
"He's teaching me as well and brings a lot of enthusiasm here.
"He's a quality young talent and great for us."
The returning Croker was happy with the performance of his wing partner after their first match together in the Telstra Premiership, but was realistic with what was ahead. The Raiders-Broncos clash has been fairly one-sided affair in Brisbane, with the Green Machine winning only four of 16 games against Wayne Bennett's outfit away from home.
"Nick's going well and he's going to get better with more match fitness," Croker said.
"He was very strong and I thought he'd been good his first two games with plenty of energy and enthusiasm.
"Now it's another test for him this week with the Broncos at Suncorp on a Friday night.
"He'll soak it up and enjoy it.
"He's pretty lucky he's got Josh Papalii on his edge as well."