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Raiders forward Josh Papalii.

No more Mr Casual Guy. Josh Papalii wants a crisp, brisk start to his 2019 Telstra Premiership season.

The Raiders forward may not know exactly where he will be featuring in the Canberra pack, but wherever he starts Papalii wants to be thick in the action.

"It would be nice to get a good start to my season," Papalii told "The last two to three years I seem to start slowly.

"It's not until I get a rocket up my arse that I start to realise I'm not playing as decent footy as I think I am.

"I'd also like to be in Origin again. It's always up there for me – securing another Queensland jersey.

"A few older boys have moved on from the Maroons and there's a few younger boys poking their heads through, so it's interesting times for Queensland.

"But first and foremost, hopefully a good round one with Canberra and we keep on right through to make the finals again."

How far the Raiders progress may depend a little on where Papalii plays (read: where he can do the most damage).

Raiders Josh Papalii.
Raiders Josh Papalii. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL photos

"I’ve been training on the left and the right [edges] and at lock as well. You never know with Sticky [coach Ricky Stuart] – I might end up on the wing.

"I started on the right when I came to the Raiders, then a few years on the left, and mostly middle last year.

"I thought that was a good change from Stick and brought some good footy out of me."

So much so Papalii won the the Raiders' Mal Meninga Medal at the club's presentation night.

Four of Papalii's five tries in 2018 were at lock. He started in the second row but from round 14 to the end of the season he wore No.13.

Stuart has made no secret of the fact he wants greater defensive impact from his players in 2019, after missing the finals the past two seasons despite being amongst the NRL's best in attack.

"It has changed a lot with Andrew McFadden coming back and bringing a lot of different strategies towards fitness and skills," Papalii said of the former Green Machine player, who coached the Jersey Flegg and Intrust Super Premiership squads before six years with the Warriors – head coach for two-and-a-half of those.

McFadden is Stuart's assistant this year.

"We definitely lost some big bodies around the place as well, so trying to fill the boots of Junior [Paulo] and Boydie [Shannon Boyd] means a different pre-season for us forwards," Papalii said.

"Andrew is helping us work out ways to help us with that."

One way could be for Papalii to go up into the front row more often, even though he feels more comfortable at lock.

"It doesn't bother me. We just need to get in shape and represent the Raiders really well this year.

"It will be all about what’s best for the team, what spots are available, and what Sticky wants.

"Honestly lately I've been playing some good footy up the middle so I won't mind either way."

Another change is the Polynesian population in the squad losing a quality member in Paulo, while the 'Little Britain' brigade improved by two – Wigan pair John Bateman and Ryan Sutton.

Raiders forward John Bateman.
Raiders forward John Bateman. ©

"Those new boys have settled in pretty well. It's a family club here – we all go to coffees and dinners together," Papalii said.

"The Pommies went to the south coast for the three days we had off [Australia Day long weekend]. They had a good time playing cricket on the beach.

"So they're obviously all close. They are all also pretty fit and have a good attitude towards training. I think all of them have played for England maybe? That's great for us."

Sutton hasn't yet but hopes the move from Wigan to the NRL will help his case for an England call-up alongside Josh Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead and Bateman.

As for Papalii, he's not played international football since the 2017 World Cup. He was overlooked by Australia despite playing all three Origin games for Queensland, so he put his hand up for Samoa.

"I didn't really go into that camp really focused, or really hungry to play footy," he told this week.

"I got a bit overweight as I treated it as a holiday. It would be nice to repay my parents home country with respect and play some really good football for Samoa.

"I'm still open to that happening."

The mid-season Pacific Tests fall in the Origin period. So Papalii might have to wait to redeem himself.

He shook his head, when asked if he might do an Andrew Fifita and pledge allegiance to Samoa first.

"No, not yet. Not this time around."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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