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Rapana's rapid return bumps Simonsson to bench

Exciting Canberra rookie Bailey Simonsson has received a jolting dose of reality after being forced to make way for Jordan Rapana.

Despite scoring a try on debut in last week's road win over the Titans, former Rugby Sevens star Simonsson has dropped back to the bench to allow Rapana to return a staggering six weeks ahead of schedule from shoulder surgery.

Rapana underwent a reconstruction a week after returning home from the Kiwis' tour of the UK in November and was originally slated to return in round eight.

While Rapana was always going to slot straight into the run-on side when fit, his expected return puts an end to Simonsson's short but sweet top-grade stint.

"There was a lot of nerves heading into that game, but it was good to get that first game out of the way and get the monkey off the back," Simonsson said.

"I think every game I go into I carry some of those nerves, I think it's only human to do that."

Raiders winger Bailey Simonsson.
Raiders winger Bailey Simonsson. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Despite being on debut, Simonsson showed his willingness to go looking for the ball amid torrential rain that forced both teams to tighten up their structure.

He didn't let anyone down, making 124 metres from 15 runs, despite the aggressive Titans' pack taking aim at the 21-year-old.

"Obviously being a new player and an outside back coming in and having a run in the middle, they pipe up and try and put a shot on, but I loved getting amongst it," he said.

However, the biggest highlight for the former West Belconnen junior came in the 64th minute when he scored to seal the victory for the Raiders.

"I think I put my hand up a little bit, but Sez (Aidan Sezer) is a quality half and he's got really good vision, so he saw I had some room on the outside," Simonsson said.

"Luckily he was able to put it on a dime for me and made my job a lot easier."

Another of the Raiders' rookies to impressive on debut was hard-working forward Corey Horsburgh.

The 21-year-old rolled his sleeves up in the wet, with 54 metres from nine runs and 16 tackles all coming in just under 25 minutes of playing time.

"A few of the older guys got around me to try and get me to focus and to treat it like any other game for me to enjoy myself," Horsburgh said.

"The intensity was the biggest difference I saw. Everybody knows what they are doing and if you slack off you'll get found out.

Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh.
Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"Defence is my favourite thing to do. I love getting in there and doing the tough stuff."

Making the game even more special for the newest Raider was having his biggest fan, father Rick, in the stands.  

"He just told before me how proud he was of me," Horsburgh said.

"He loves his footy just as much as I do so to see him happy made me really happy."

The Redcliffe junior showed coach Ricky Stuart enough in game one to retain his place on the bench, with Dunamis Lui named to start in the run-on side after being a late swap with Sia Soliola, who will start in jersey number 16 on Friday night against the Melbourne Storm at GIO Stadium.

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