Rapira aims to finish on his terms
He has played more games than any other Warriors prop in their 20-year history, but Sam Rapira was starting to think he might end his time in Auckland playing NSW Cup or sitting in the rehab room.
At 28 years of age Rapira's 10th season at the Warriors will also be his last before linking up with Super League side Huddersfield Giants on a two-year deal.
Last Sunday against the Roosters he made his 171st all-time appearance for the Kiwi club, but just his second in a year stalled by a hamstring issue and subsequent stay in reserve grade.
It's safe to say his Auckland farewell hasn’t gone to plan, but Rapira is just thankful to have the chance to run out a few more times in an NRL jersey at his beloved Mount Smart Stadium.
"It did cross my mind that I might not get another chance, but if I am not playing well enough and other boys are, well that's just the way the NRL is," Rapira told NRL.com.
"When everyone is playing well and no-one is injured then they play the best team, whether you have been here for 10 years or two years.
"I just believed if I played well enough I would get a shot.
"There was an injury at the weekend so I got the call up, so I suppose it's just a matter of me holding my jersey and performing well."
Since debuting against the Wests Tigers back in Round 11 of season 2006, Rapira has been capped 13 times by the Kiwis, won a World Cup in 2008 and played alongside brother Steve for the Warriors in 2013.
A junior product of Waikato club Hukanui, Rapira has forged a reputation as a rugged front-rower who has little thought for self-preservation on the field.
In a team which was totally dominated for the majority of the 80 minutes last week, Rapira played 30 minutes for seven runs and 61 metres against the Roosters, admitting to some initial struggles adapting back to the pace of the NRL compared to NSW Cup.
"A few of the boys actually spoke about that. You sort of play to the level you are playing at, so when you step up everyone automatically steps up as well," Rapira said.
"I found on the weekend that it was hard, but again the more games the better you are going to be.
"It was good to get back out and have a run, it's been hard so far but I got a chance on the weekend and hopefully I can get another chance and just keep improving.
"It's hard to see how you went when you lose; you just feel bad whether you did well or not."
In his 10 Telstra Premiership campaigns with the club they have qualified for the finals 50 percent of the time, and Rapira is confident there will be no repeat of the late-season collapses which have ended their play-off hopes over the past two seasons.
"I think the boys all know what we have to do and we just get on with it now, whether we are coming second, eighth or 10th," he said.
"We know our job and have belief in the coaches and each other that we can do the job."