Injury setback no issue for 'Air Jordan'
Raiders winger Jordan Rapana has revealed how he and his partner turned an injury setback into a family getaway during last year's Four Nations tournament in the UK.
Rapana was forced to extend his overseas stay after fracturing his cheekbone in the Four Nations final loss to Australia in Liverpool.
While the injury didn't require surgery, the Kiwis winger was not medically cleared to fly back home due to the heightened risks associated with air travel and increased pressure.
Instead of moping around in his hotel room, Rapana made the most of a bad situation as he spent the next fortnight with his partner catching up with friends and former teammates.
"I wasn't allowed [to come back to Australia] so I ended up making a holiday if it," Rapana said.
"My missus came over and we had a two-week holiday. We caught up with a few of the English boys that were still over there and Sammy Williams who used to play here. We made a good trip of it and I made a positive from a negative.
"I obviously didn't need surgery, so that was pretty important. I'm back into full contact and training so I'm looking forward to my first pre-season game."
While his time in the UK might have ended in injury and defeat, the 27-year-old described the experience as a "dream come true" and said it wouldn't have been possible without the support of his Raiders teammates.
"It's always been a childhood dream of mine to play for my country," he said.
"Credit to the boys here – I got to play some good footy off the back of them and was awarded a Test jersey. It was obviously not the result that we wanted, but just for experience, I really enjoyed it and loved every minute of it."
Rapana finished the tournament with three tries from as many matches in a continuation of form that saw him score 23 tries for the Raiders during the 2016 Telstra Premiership season.
Following on from their eye-catching brand of footy that saw the Raiders stun many by finishing second on the ladder after 26 rounds, the pressure will be on the Green Machine to replicate - if not improve on - last year's efforts.
Rapana said his teammates wouldn't be resting on their laurels but conceded the job would be made easier given their ability to retain the bulk of last year's squad.
"We've just got to take each week as it comes. We proved critics wrong last year and we did really well. But that's last year, and we've got a new year ahead of us," he said.
"Fortunately for us, we've pretty much got the same team so we'll be taking off from where we left last year. I know I'm hungry and I know the other boys are hungry for a premiership so I'm really looking forward to it."