Josh Papalii will become a Raider for life with the gun forward signing a contract extension that will keep him in the nation's capital until the end of 2025.
As revealed by the Herald a month ago, Papalii and the club were ''at the pointy end of discussions'' about adding two years, which would stretch his first-grade career at the Green Machine to 14 seasons.
Two more years … Josh Papalii has extended his stay with Canberra until the end of 2024.Credit:NRL Photos/Scott Davis
The club and three-time Mal Meninga medallist later agreed to add an option in his favour for the 2025 season.
It is excellent news for the fifth-placed Raiders as they start to crank into gear ahead of the finals.
Papalii's prized signature will also spark fresh debate about where he ranks among the all-time great Canberra forwards.
While coach Ricky Stuart recently declared Papalii would go down as ''one of our greatest players ever'', Canberra chief executive Don Furner said on Tuesday morning there had not been a better forward during his 25 years at the club.
"Certainly during my time here we haven't developed or signed a forward who has been better than Josh,'' Furner said.
"He always indicated to us he wanted to stay here, and it was about getting the terms right.
Thumbs up … Josh Papalii (left) will become a Raider for Life.Credit:Getty
"I can still remember him coming down here as a young 16 or 17-year-old. He was polite, shy but outstanding for us back then.
"There are players we'd love to see retire here and be one-club players, and Josh is certainly that.''
There were whispers Papalii was keen to return home to Queensland for family reasons, but the latest extension makes it clear he and his young family are more than happy with life in the nation's capital.
Inspirational skipper Jarrod Croker and star five-eighth Jack Wighton – two of Papalii's good mates – are locked up until the end of 2024.
Josh Papalii gave his all in last year’s Grand Final loss.Credit:Getty Images
"I love this club and I love Canberra,'' Papalii said.
"This is my home now and my family and I are very happy to be remaining with the Raiders and in Canberra.
"I came here as a junior player, made my debut here and played my 200th NRL game here and there’s no other club I want to play for.''
Canberra remain an outside chance of snatching a top-four spot, but would need to rely on Parramatta, a club with an inferior for and against, to drop one of their remaining two games.
They host the Warriors on Sunday afternoon and play Cronulla in the final round.
Fellow prop Sia Soliola is also in talks about extending his deal, as it winger Jordan Rapana.
After Papalii produced one of the greatest moments of the 2020 when he sprinted 60m and ankle-tapped Gold Coast half Jamal Fogarty to deny a certain try, Stuart said: "Papa will go down as one of our greatest players ever when he retires. He is one of the boys’ favourites. They love playing with him.
"I don’t underestimate anything Josh has got. He has got a wonderful motor. He is a very skilful guy for his size.''
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