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Stuart wins gong for Raiders' NRL revival

NZN 28/09/2016 Matt Encarnacion

He's the man who put the can in Canberra.

And now Ricky Stuart can put the raid in Raiders after beating a number of hot contenders to be crowned coach of the year at Wednesday night's Dally M awards in Sydney.

He is the first person to win the Dally M medal as a player in 1993, and as a coach in 2016 - both with Canberra.

"I didn't know that but it's quite humbling," Stuart said.

"You don't get this without a really strong administration. You don't get it without good help around you. I'm receiving this on behalf of all the coaches and the players."

The coach of the year gong comes 14 years after claiming his sole premiership as a mentor with the Sydney Roosters in his rookie year, but that season he was beaten for the award by Ivan Cleary.

On Wednesday Stuart edged out Gold Coast's Neil Henry and Cronulla's Shane Flanagan after leading his men to within 80 minutes of a grand final.

Henry was considered a contender for taking the Titans into a surprise finals spot, while Flanagan was a sentimental choice for seeing the Sharks from the wooden spooners in 2014 to a decider just two years later.

However, the title went to the two-time halfback of the year in Stuart, whose Raiders captured the imagination of the league as the highest-scoring outfit in the competition.

In his first season in charge in 2014 they finished one spot above the wooden spoon before showing life in 2015 with a 10th-placed finish.

But in his third year, Stuart's Raiders wound back the clock, staying in the top eight for the entire season, and riding the wave of a 10-game winning streak into the finals.

Eventually, they were beaten by grand finalists Melbourne in the preliminary final, but not before restoring some pride in the club.

Stuart admitted the club took a gamble on him with his appointment three years ago.

"There was a lot of uncertainty about the risk the club took. (Chairman Allan Hawke) and the board, (CEO) Donny Furner, they stuck their neck out for me and I owe them a lot," Stuart said.

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