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Raiders winger Jordan Rapana.

There's not many sporting athletes around the world who have been lucky enough to play or witness a game at Liverpool's Anfield stadium and not enjoy the experience.


But Jordan Rapana is one of the rare cases and if a third time ever came around you could forgive the 29-year-old for contemplating at giving it a miss. 

As Rapana plans to make a surprise return from shoulder surgery in Friday night's clash with grand finalists Melbourne, he detailed the torment of leaving his Kiwis teammates midway through the side's tour of the UK last November after succumbing to a serious shoulder injury.

"It was a pain in the arse," Rapana told

"I had to get on a flight the next day in excruciating pain. I was on a lot of pain killers and slept the whole 24-hour flight home.

"It was just one of those things that happened. I had surgery two days later. When I did my shoulder, one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind… that I was going to miss the Maori All Stars.

"Talking to some of the Kiwis boys and Joey Tapine, they said it was one of the best weeks of their rugby league career."

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A week prior leading into the Kiwis' second Test in Liverpool, Rapana stood alongside his New Zealand teammates and performed a passionate haka for Liverpool FC players and staff.

Naturally, the 29-year-old became a fan.

"Getting to train with Liverpool it's become my team to support but I might have to support a different or never go back to Anfield," he laughed.

"I've got a bit of a history there, played there twice and the first time I fractured my eye socket and cheekbone in the Four Nations final [2016].

"I couldn't fly back with the team then either. I got stuck in England for two weeks. It hasn't been a good place to play for me, which is funny because everyone around the world loves the history with the ground."

At the time of the interview in early March, Rapana was hopeful of a return to the paddock by round eight at the earliest.

What's happened between then and now only he'll be able to detail following his return to GIO Stadium on Friday.

Comparing the injury to teammate Ata Hingano (shoulder), the Raiders winger explained the severity of his setback in comparison.

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"If you looked at my shoulder I had about seven or eight holes where as Ata had three," Rapana said.

"I had a shoulder reconstruction on my left side and I was back in three months. But this is anywhere between four to six. Mentally my head space is in the right place."

As it stands, Rapana will return four months and one week into his rehabilitation in a major boost for Ricky Stuart's side.


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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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