The Raiders' Jordan Rapana has capped his incredible recall to first grade by re-signing with the club for 2015.
Rapana was last sighted in the NRL six years ago, when he scored five tries in as many games with the Titans as an 18-year-old in 2008, before leaving to take up a two-year Mormon mission in Wales and England.
After failed stints with Super rugby outfits Western Force and ACT Brumbies, Rapana joined the Raiders last year, and this Saturday the 23-year-old returns to the top flight against the Eels in Darwin.
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Having starred at fullback this year with Canberra's feeder club Souths Logan in the Intrust Super Cup, Rapana's return and new one-year deal with the club shape as an audition for the custodian role Anthony Milford will leave vacant when he departs for Brisbane at the end of the year.
“I’m obviously very excited about having the opportunity to play this weekend, but also very excited to have signed with the Raiders for another year,” Rapana said.
“Ricky has shown some faith in me and I want to repay that by working really hard and making sure I continue to get better each week.”
“I’ve been playing for Souths Logan all year and have played a few positions, but I feel like since I’ve moved to fullback I’ve been able to take my game to another level.
“The fullback role is one that is open at the Raiders next year and I’ve now got a chance to put my hand up for it.”
Raiders CEO Don Furner said Rapana, who is not a member of the club's top 25 squad, would have debuted earlier in the year but for Canberra's already stretched $440,000 second-tier salary cap. The club successfully sought an exemption to the cap due to an extensive injury list amongst its outside backs that allows the 23-year-old to play this weekend.
“Jordan has been in great for Souths Logan this year and has been one of the best players not only for the Magpies but in that competition,” Furner said.
“He would have had an opportunity earlier this year if we hadn’t reached the ceiling of our second tier salary cap, but he gets an opportunity this weekend to make his Raiders debut due to our current injury situation.
“We look forward to having Jordan at the club for another season and hope he can continue his strong form this season and push for a regular first grade position next year.”