Papalii has earned Origin spot: Stuart
Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart is adamant Josh Papalii is again ready for State of Origin after spearheading his side to a 32-18 defeat of the Gold Coast Titans.
Leading into the clash at GIO Stadium on Saturday, speculation was mounting Papalii and Titans tearaway Jai Arrow would be a vying for a Maroons jersey.
Stuart laid down a pre-game challenge to Papalii to show Queensland coach Kevin Walters why he should be playing in the series opener in Melbourne on June 6.
"Josh Papalii is proven, and when his weight is right and he's fit, he's an Origin and international player every day of the week," Stuart said.
"I told him before the game 'go and show everybody you are an Origin player' and he was wonderful, especially his first half to set up that 20-0 lead.
"He's a big part of our club, and no disrespect to young [Jai] Arrow, but to have that sort of questioning on Josh fighting for a position with a young fella who's not at that [Origin] level yet, well it was hands down today.
"I know young Jai got injured and I hope he's okay, but Josh showed Kevvie [Walters] today he's ready to step up."
A sub-plot to the Raiders' fourth win in five games was the outstanding performance from Shannon Boyd - against the club he is linked to defect to in 2019.
Boyd scored a try and ran for 142 metres off the bench, as the Titans circle to potentially snare the off-contract prop's signature.
"I had to take him [Boyd] off, he's been linked to the Gold Coast for $650,000 a year, I said to him when I brought him off 'they'll want to give you $900,000 a year now', let's see if we can keep him," Stuart said post-match.
"I want to keep every one of them, but I can't pay them the huge money that is being offered elsewhere.
"If Junior [Paulo] and Boydy are getting this astronomical money from other clubs, they go with my best wishes.
"It's going to affect us as a football team, I wanted to keep stability whilst I am coaching here because I know stability will get your success at some stage.
"But the money being thrown around is astronomical for those two boys and we can't match it, simple as that."
Not referring directly to Boyd or Paulo, Stuart said he wants players to be in Canberra because they want to play for the club, "not just for getting the most money on offer."
Stuart was also happy with his side's mental toughness after the ghosts of round one against the Gold Coast appeared again early in the second stanza.
Down by 20 points, the visitors scored twice to cut the margin to eight before Boyd's try in the 54th minute helped put the Raiders back on the front foot.
"I spoke about it after the game ... if we were a mentally weak team we would have started to get the shakes, and we didn't,'' Stuart said.
"I'm proud of the fact that we dug our heels in and got back into the game again by scoring quick points."