“All I will say is we’re their second family down here at the Raiders,” Stuart told the Herald.

“It’s been a unique year. Being away from their immediate family and loved ones has been hard enough.”

As for whether he was a good cook, Stuart said: “Ring the boys on Boxing Day and ask them.”

Elliott Whitehead, George Williams and Corey Horsburgh were three players set to join Stuart and his family, and now the dinner table will also accommodate the likes of Sydney-based Raiders Corey Harawira-Naera, Caleb Aekins and possibly Albert Hopoate.

None of the players will need to watch their weight after every Raider reported back in tip-top shape for Monday’s testing.

Elliott Whitehead will be one of Ricky Stuart's Christmas dinner guests.

Elliott Whitehead will be one of Ricky Stuart’s Christmas dinner guests.Credit:Getty Images

“We had our testing day on Monday and I couldn’t be happier with the way they all followed their programs,” Stuart said. “They’ve all come back in good nick – we couldn’t be happier with where all the players are at.”


Josh Hodgson told the Herald he was on track for a round-one return after rupturing his ACL in July, and had commenced changing direction on his right knee three weeks ago. He will spend Christmas with his nephew, Bailey Hodgson, who has just joined the Newcastle Knights.

Meanwhile, premier prop Josh Papalii still awaits an opponent for his boxing bout in February with promoter Dean Lonergan naming Broncos pair Payne Haas and Matt Lodge, as well as retired Englishman James Graham, as three opponents at the top of his own wish list.

Storm front-rower Nelson Asofa-Solomona, who famously unleashed a flurry of punches outside a Bali nightclub last summer, officially pulled out of the Papalii fight last week.

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