Canberra Raiders rookie Nick Cotric still pinching himself in debut season
Canberra Raiders flyer Nick Cotric in a frontrunner for the NRL’s rookie of the year gong but the teenage star is still pinching himself in disbelief.
Less than 12 months ago he looked up to Raiders stars like Jarrod Croker, Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer.
Now he’s playing alongside them, going for coffee with them, and they are even dropping him off at Raiders headquarters when it’s his turn to chat to the media.
Cotric has always kept a remarkably level head on his shoulders because he knows rugby league can be a short career path – nothing is guaranteed.
“I still pinch myself sometimes that I’m still around and still playing grade,” Cotric said.
“It’s been good, enjoying every moment and just [have to] keep doing the little things right. It’s a good lifestyle – just train, get mochas, hang out – I’m just loving it. I’m just enjoying life, it’s been good.
“It’s still pretty surreal. Croker not long ago I was looking up to him, and Austo and that. Now I’m mates with them, just having banter with them. It’s been good. Life goes so quick.
“All the boys help me out heaps, especially Austin, Sezer and Toots [Croker]. Everyone has been good, I’m loving it here at the moment.”
Cotric is gearing up for a battle with one of the NRL’s premier wingers in Melbourne Storm flyer Suliasi Vunivalu at Canberra Stadium this Saturday night.
Cotric’s numbers are impressive for a rookie and the one that stands out is his tackle breaks – the Tuggeranong product boasts 99 to Vunivali’s 54.
“He’s been a standout player this year and he’s going to be a big challenge I think for me,” Cotric said.
“Toots is there for me anyway to help me out, it should be a good contest.”
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has been full of praise for the youngster all season and it came to head when the Green Machine suffered a fourth straight loss earlier this month.
Stuart said the Raiders were “lucky” they had him in the side and it was unfair for Cotric to be shouldering so much of the load all year in his debut season in the top grade.
After hearing such high praise Cotric says all he can do is focus on doing all the little things right – racking up quick play the balls, catching bombs and ticking off 100 running metres per game.
“I guess just keep putting my head down and keep training hard, that’s about it,” Cotric said.
“I just try and keep as level headed as I can because it’s not a long career, anything can happen. You just keep it as it goes.
“I’m going alright. I’ve just got to do the little things right and keep improving my game a bit more every week but the boys have been helping me heaps so it’s been good.”
NRL ROUND 20
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Melbourne Storm at Canberra Stadium, 5:30pm. TV time: Live on Fox League. Tickets from Ticketek.