Christmas is still a month away but the gifts are coming early and often for Canberra, with forward Josh Papalii re-signing until the end of 2018.
His recommitment follows the recent extensions of cornerstone players Jack Wighton, Joey Leilua and Shannon Boyd, all of whom will pull on the lime green for the next three seasons.
“I’ve been in Canberra for a while now and its become a home for me so I’m really happy to be staying with the Raiders and continuing my career here,” Papalii said on Friday.
It was only in January when the Queensland forward stated he wanted to be a Raider for life and Stuart said it was more than a throwaway line.
“I don’t know if people understand the powerful message that he keeps sending out that he wants to be a Raider for life,” Stuart said.
“It’s wonderful for the club to have such a great person but also a great football player, current Origin player, want to be here for life.”
After a disappointing 15th-place finish in 2014, the Raiders improved markedly in 2015 to fall two wins short of the top eight in 10th spot.
However, a strong off-season that includes the arrivals of highly-rated playmaker Aidan Sezer has the `Green Machine’ poised for a return to the finals next year.
Stuart said there was a concerted effort to ensure a number of the club’s key men were locked in for the long-haul.
“We wanted to create stability,” he said.
“We know we’re all on track in regards to my plan and the big picture we have at stake.
“Stability and happiness is a very important factor in regards to achieving success.”
Papalii’s re-signing leaves Iosia Soliola, Josh Hodgson and Sisa Waqa as the club’s only projected starters off-contract at the end of next season.