Six-try haul just rewards for Rapana and Leilua
Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has praised the electrifying contributions of Jordan Rapana and Joseph Leilua following his side's emphatic 60-6 win over the Tigers at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.
Rapana crossed for four tries in the nation's capital, while his centre partner nabbed a second-half double. The pair also combined for three try assists and terrorised the Tigers with 165 and 142 metres respectively.
Stuart says the dominant display on the right edge came as no surprise after the star duo produced commendable efforts in an otherwise underwhelming team effort last week against the Sharks.
"They were two blokes I spoke about last week that really stood up for our team in a very poor performance. When they had the opportunity they just put a great show on," Stuart said after the game.
"They asked who should be man of the match tonight and there were a number of guys who played well but those two boys deserved joint man of the match."
While the Raiders coach couldn't fault his winger's performance on Saturday night, he wasn't so congratulatory when it came to Rapana's new hairstyle.
"He looked like he certainly cut his own out there tonight. I wouldn't do that to my dog," Stuart joked.
Stuart says he was worried Rapana would break a long-standing Raiders record in front of Canberra legend – and former teammate – Mal Meninga, insisting he even warned the 26-year-old to stop scoring tries.
"I sent a message out there at one stage to Jordan, "Mal's here tonight. I don't want you getting five [tries] because Mal's the only bloke who's got five for the Raiders."
While the backs are set to grab most of the headlines, Stuart made sure the work done by his forwards – namely Josh Papalii – wasn't forgotten.
The 23-year-old back-rower had another stellar showing with 149 metres and no missed tackles in his seventh straight 80-minute performance (the Raiders played 90 minutes against the Knights in Round 3), and Stuart believes his left-edge enforcer is playing well enough to earn a recall to the Australian side for the first time since 2014.
"I'd love to see Josh represent Australia. I think that would be icing on the cake in regards to the way he's started the season because he's been very consistent for us and been doing all the little things off the field," the Canberra coach said.
"That's what you have to do and he's doing that so well this year. From the first day we turned up to pre-season for training he's just been very professional and elite in his preparation."