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Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said he "wouldn't hesitate" to pick returning star Joey Leilua for Sunday's top-four showdown with the Sydney Roosters if it doesn't upset team balance.

Leilua has returned to full training after undergoing neck surgery and missing the last three months.

He has been named on the reserves bench for the match at GIO Stadium. Inclusion in the 17 would be a boost as he was in career-best form before injury struck.

However, Stuart said the dynamic of the team that has won four straight would also need to be considered.

"BJ's close ... there's no caution at all, he's been given the all-clear," Stuart said.

"The dynamic of the whole team is something that is quite crucial, especially playing the premiers who are a quality football team.

"Whether you have an outside back on the bench, have him starting or have him sitting out is a decision that we'll make on the back end of the week."

Raiders v Roosters - Round 21

Stuart paid tribute to Leilua's work ethic during his time away from the team, saying he has effectively been put through a second off-season in order to be fit for the Raiders' finals campaign.

"He's done a lot of hard work, BJ is a big, explosive style of player and those type of players," he said.

"It's difficult when you've got to put kilometres in their legs because they prefer the short, sharp work.

Raiders implement the razzle dazzle

"But we had to put a few k's into his legs again after having so much time out, but he's fronted up and done it and it's a credit to him."

Stuart said marking Jarrod Croker's 250th NRL match in a suitable manner would provide added motivation when the Roosters come to town.

"It's a tough job to play one NRL game let alone 250 and Jarrod's nowhere near finished," he said.

"He's had a wonderful career and he's got a wonderful career in front of him and he's probably one of the most underestimated players I've coached I believe.

"I think it's important for Jarrod to enjoy the fact it's a big deal, he's a very humble guy and he deserves every accolade he gets.

"Achieving 250 is a very difficult task and how he's achieved it, the records he's broken it's pretty remarkable."

Raiders co-captain Jarrod Croker.
Raiders co-captain Jarrod Croker. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL Photos

A fast start will be crucial for the Raiders on Sunday if they are to avoid the hole they found themselves when they met the Roosters in round nine.

Trent Robinson's team raced out to a 22-6 lead after 28 minutes that day on their way to a six-point win in the Magic Round encounter. 

"They bashed us big time up in Brisbane the last game we played against them," Stuart said.

"They [Luke Keary and Cooper Cronk] are very special players and steer that team around and they're the backbone of that machine.

"They're very strategic the way they play and then the quality of [James] Tedesco at the back, he's very hard to handle, he's going to play well you've just got to try and limit his contribution."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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