Stuart calls NSW hopeful Cotric 'the best winger in the competition'
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has told New South Wales selectors to pick Nick Cotric because he's the "best winger in the competition".
The ringing endorsement came after the 19-year-old scored two tries to help propel the Raiders to a stunning 21-20 come-from-behind victory against the Manly Sea Eagles at GIO Stadium on Friday night.
Canberra had been keen not to let Origin hype reach the teenager's ears, but after another excellent performance, Stuart pushed his claims for Holden State of Origin selection ahead of Monday's announcement.
"If you're picking the best wingers in the competition for New South Wales, he's your first winger picked," Stuart said.
"Call me biased, I don't care, he's the best winger in the competition."
It was far from a perfect performance from the Raiders, who were down 14-2 inside the first 20 minutes and staring down the barrel of what would have been an eighth loss of the season.
Stuart paid tribute to the side's "courage" as they drew level just after half-time to setting up a nail-biting finish.
"We were penalised out of that game in the first 20 minutes and they scored two tries through soft defence. I must admit, we're better than that," Stuart said.
"We gave them a lot of footy in the second half and we defended very well.
"From a coach's point of view, the courage and the will to win and the never say die attitude - that's what's in the green jumper."
Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker said the team did well to avoid becoming unsettled by early defensive problems, issues which resulted in Daly Cherry-Evans and Joel Thompson crossing for tries.
"I wasn't worried about the scoreboard, I never am, because I know we've got points in us," Croker said.
"For the first 20 minutes we just tackled and [the] more disappointing thing for me was the two tries we let in which were quite soft for our standards.
"Once we did get the ball back and put our heads back on, we had five or six minutes to get ourselves out of there.
"It was Aidan [Sezer] and Blake [Austin], they kept their heads on their shoulders and got us home."
Stuart paid tribute to match-winner Sezer's improving ability to learn from his mistakes after admitting he should have taken a late shot at goal last weekend against St George Illawarra.
"He's making a few errors and it's because he's trying too hard so while he's making errors because he's trying, we'll fix that," Stuart said
"To his credit he came and saw me after the game last week (against St George Illawarra) he said it was in his head to take a field goal, and I was really happy he was thinking about it.
"Tonight, it was well and truly head, it wasn't the nicest one, but it's a lot better than a pretty one missing."