Sam Rapira to exit NRL after 2015
After 10 seasons as a New Zealand Warrior Sam Rapira has decided 2015 will be his last, opting to take up a Super League contract at the end of the year.
The 27-year-old debuted in the 2006 season and has since amassed the most Telstra Premiership appearances by a front-rower in the club's 20-year history.
He told teammates and club staff of his decision on Wednesday morning, and has no doubt it is the right call at this stage of his life.
"I think personally for me things have to come to an end and I just felt that with being my tenth year and me feeling good, I wanted to go out playing football not sort of being injured," Rapira said.
"There was a little bit of discussion [about a new contract with the Warriors]… but I thought out of all years to go this one would be a good one.
"I don't know anything else apart from the Warriors.
"But it's time for me to try something new and have a bit of a change."
Injuries have been a constant companion to Rapira's NRL career, and out of a possible 218 games since his debut he has played only 169.
He is yet to appear this season due to a hamstring problem as well.
"It has been tough the last few years, but in saying that this is the best I have felt in the last three or four years, so apart from the little niggle I had in Round 1 the body is feeling the best it has in a while," he said.
"It's hard but you get to a point where you sort of accept that it is all a part of it.
"As footballers it is a physical sport, we get injured and you just sort of have to deal with it.
"Hopefully I get over this and enjoy the rest of the year."
Coach Andrew McFadden praised Rapira's contribution to the club both on and off the field.
"Sam is a terrific person and a fantastic team man who encompasses all the values we seek in our players," McFadden said.
"He stands out as one of our leaders, a steadying influence and a rock-solid performer who never gives less than everything he has when he plays for the club."
While Rapira remained coy on exactly which Super League club he will be signing with, he said it was an exciting new adventure for his family and that they would play it by ear in terms of how long they stay in the UK.
"Nothing is confirmed yet, we still have a few minor things to sort out," he said.
"I think we will take it year by year.
"We will see how the first year goes and if it is good we will stay, if it's not good then that might be it.
"It's something different and it is all going to be new, so we will just take it as it comes.
Rapira singled out his two NRL appearances with younger brother Steve in 2013, making the grand final in 2011 and running out with his kids at his 150th game as career highlights.