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Stuart wins gong for Raiders' NRL revival

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 28/09/2016 Matt Encarnacion

Canberra Raiders NRL coach Ricky Stuart © AAP Image/Mick Tsikas Canberra Raiders NRL coach Ricky Stuart He's the man who put the can in Canberra.

And now he can put the raid in Raiders, with Ricky Stuart bursting through 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 the lime green coursing through his veins.

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 was beaten out for the award by Ivan Cleary.

The Canberra legend 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 leading the Titans into a surprise finals spot, while Flanagan was a sentimental choice for taking the Sharks from the wooden spoon to a decider.

However, the title went to the two-time halfback of the year in Stuart, whose Raiders captured the imagination of the league with 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 the following season 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 rode 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 finally waking the sleeping giant in Canberra and restoring some pride in the club.

After their loss to the Storm last week, Stuart predicted more growth out of his men in 2017.

""Our hurt now is the start of a really, really competitive era for the Canberra Raiders," he said.

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