Tapine keen to lock down starting role
Canberra Raiders second-rower Joseph Tapine knows he has to continue to perform if he's to keep a hold of his newly acquired and coveted starting role.
The 23-year-old used his excellent World Cup performance for New Zealand and excellent pre-season to stake an early claim on the number 12 jersey.
But with the likes of Luke Bateman, Dunamis Lui and Iosia Soiliola waiting in the wings, Tapine knows he is only as good as his last performance as he prepares to face the Gold Coast Titans on the road this Sunday.
"Even some of the training sessions and we do opposed work, some of the young boys are really training well, like Murch (Jack Murchie)," Tapine said.
"So, you feel the pressure to perform to keep that spot."
Tapine said ideally, he would prefer to be used on the right edge this weekend and hope to link up with new half Sam Williams and the potent combination of BJ Leilua and Jordan Rapana outside him.
The boom youngster showed off his potential last year in the middle or on the edge, on his way his way to recording 54 tackle breaks, 17 off-loads and three tries in 22 games last season.
"I'm looking forward to playing with Sammy, BJ and Raps as they pull some magic out of their hat and Sammy's a good organiser, so it's good for me with his talk," he said.
Like most of the Raiders squad, Tapine said he is not taking the Gold Coast Titans lightly in round one, pointing to their host of new players including Bryce Cartwright.
"He's a good ball-playing forward and we’ve got to limit his time with the ball and cut down on his off-loads," Tapine said of Cartwright.
"We've been doing video on all of their new players, I'm just ready to get out there.
"They've (Titans) got a lot of new players, the comp's changed a lot with a lot of new buys everywhere and they have got a solid team around the park, so we'll do our video and go out as hard as we can."
It's also a big week for rugby league in the nation's capital this weekend, with the West Belconnen Nines kicking off on Friday.
Ex-Canberra, NSW Origin and Australian Test winger Joel Monaghan is a confirmed starter for Group 9 side the Albury Thunder while Jeff Lima is also set to pull the boots on.
Former Raiders hooker Glen Buttriss will be there as player-coach of his hometown side the Cootamundra Bulldogs, while former Canberra players Adrian Purtell, Lincoln Withers and David Howell will all be involved in a coaching capacity.
Pool games start Friday with the grand-final to kick-off from 2.30pm Sunday.