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'Raiders royalty' contract offer for Cotric to keep Dogs at bay

Canberra have rolled out treatment only previously given to Raiders royalty in their 38-year history to keep the Bulldogs at bay and hang onto local junior Nick Cotric.

NRL.com understands Canberra's five-year offer worth around $2.5 million has been tabled in a bid to bring months of negotiations to a head, with the club wary of the bidding war being played out in public.

Canterbury have pursued Cotric hard with a three-year, estimated $1.8 million deal of their own, prompting Canberra to go well beyond what was originally a three-year extension.

Neither club has made an official comment on Cotric’s contract offers.

But a decision on where he will be beyond 2020 is expected soon, potentially as early as next week after the Raiders' clash with Melbourne on Saturday.

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Given Canberra are unwilling to up their original $500,000 a year offer, they have come back recently to Cotric's agent Sam Ayoub with one of the lengthiest deals in the club’s history - which would lock him in until the end of 2025.

And only the brightest of stars in a lime green galaxy over the years have been entrusted by the club for such a significant period.

During Canberra's halcyon days, current coach Ricky Stuart, Immortal Mal Meninga and Hall of Famers Laurie Daley and Brad Clyde were signed on five-year deals.

More recently, current captain Jarrod Croker and Clive Churchill medallist Jack Wighton were extended for the same lengthy period at the start of 2020.

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Only Terry Campese's six-year deal in 2009 trumps those contracts for length, though injuries cruelled the former Blues five-eighth for much of that time.

Canterbury's trump card is believed to be an extra $100,000 a season and the chance to play centre rather than wing.

The presence of Croker and Curtis Scott all but prevents that at Canberra in the short term, though Cotric has risen to Australian Test and NSW Origin honours from the flank in four seasons of first grade.

Despite Scott's recent defensive issues leading to him being dropped from Stuart’s side, veteran Michael Oldfield has been preferred as his replacement rather than shifting Cotric in from the wing.

Also to be considered by the 21-year-old as he makes his decision is his representative career prospects.

Switching to a rebuild at Belmore, with Dean Pay's side currently running last, could make regaining those Blues and Kangaroos jerseys – and the $20,000 and $30,000 appearance fees that go with them – much tougher than would be the case in Canberra.

"Quality players like Nick we're always interested in. He's an Origin player, hopefully if it goes our way great, if it doesn't, well, we've got to move onto the next one," Pay said on Friday.

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Cotric and veteran prop Sia Soliola are the last high-profile players off contract in the nation's capital.

He has spoken often of his desire to stay with the Raiders in recent times, having been signed while still attending Erindale High School and debuting with the club as an 18-year-old.

However, Canterbury are still believed to be well and truly in with a shot at Cotric now they are no longer hampered by their salary cap restrictions of recent years.