Rapana wants new Raiders deal over Japanese rugby move

Kiwi international Jordan Rapana is desperate to remain in lime green but concedes Canberra's salary cap pressure may see him turn to Japanese rugby union.

Rapana's manager Sam Ayoub and Raiders officials have been locked in ongoing negotiations for most all of 2019 after the high-flying winger knocked back Canberra's original two-year offer.

In the meantime the Raiders' salary cap has been spent elsewhere, prompting Rapana to explore his options with Japanese union franchise Panasonic Wild Knights, coached by former Wallabies mentor Robbie Deans.

Rapana, 30, has played the 15-man game previously with the now-defunct Western Force and was on the Brumbies' radar before joining Canberra in 2014.

He stands to earn far more in overseas rugby than anything the best paid NRL wingers collect, but Rapana remains hopeful of a new Raiders deal being thrashed out once the club's finals campaign is wrapped up, ideally with a long-awaited premiership.

"The contracts and that are still up in the air but I'll tell you right now, this is ideally where I want to be," Rapana told NRL.com on Monday.

"I love it here. This has become my home. I have no intentions of leaving. Obviously my manager's trying to keep my options open and available for me.

"My manager and I, we have talked about what could come up and what could possibly be an offer from [the Wild Knights] if they can't keep me here.

"But personally I haven't spoken to anyone. I just leave it in his hands and let him take care of that.

Match: Storm v Raiders

Finals Week 1 -

Full Time
Storm

Home Team

Storm

Scored 10 points
Raiders

Away Team

Raiders

Scored 12 points

Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne

Match broadcasters:

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"I've also told him too that this is where my first priority is, to stay here.

"I do have to keep my options open though, if I can't stay here I've got to look after myself."

NRL.com understands that Canberra currently cannot improve any offer for Rapana unless a player is offloaded, with halfback Aidan Sezer's future potentially impacted by the arrival of English playmaker George Williams next year.

Sezer has been bullish about seeing the 2020 component of his Canberra contract, but if he were to be picked up by a rival NRL club it could free up enough money to retain Rapana.

He returns to the Raiders line-up for Saturday's semi-final trip to Melbourne after being rested for last week's surprise loss to the Warriors.

Despite his clouded future Rapana's overwhelming focus is Canberra's impressive premiership claims, which he sees as far stronger than their last finals fling in 2016, which ended in a tight preliminary final loss to the Storm.

"I've got a job here to do with the boys that I've been playing with now for five-six years, we want to win the comp," he said.

"We've grown so much more as a squad and a team from 2016.

"We had two years where we didn't make the eight at all and there was some pretty rough times in that.

"It's safe to say that I think, we thought it would just happen for us after that season.

"But the positive that comes out of that is you realise how much you want to be in this position.

"A lot of the close games we've won this year we would've lost in previous years. We're a stronger team than we were a few years ago."