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Canberra’s Jordan Rapana has all but abandoned another shot at rugby union, saying he’d love to finish his sporting career in the NRL with the Raiders.
Rapana could be rushed back into the Raiders’ line-up when the league resumes on May 28, after his short-lived rugby stint in Japan.
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The former Kiwis international only played a handful of trial games with the Panasonic Wild Knights before the competition was postponed by COVID-19. It prompted the 30-year-old to seek a return to Canberra and set his sights on ending his career playing rugby league.
“I haven’t had the best strike rate in rugby union,” Rapana said.
“It probably just opened my eyes up a bit more about how much I really enjoy rugby league and how much league is the sport for me.
“Ideally, Canberra’s become my home away from home and I’d love to stay here for the rest of my career.”
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Rapana is contracted to the Raiders until the end of this season.
“I’m not too sure what the future has but, if I had it my way, I’d definitely like to stay here and stay in league for sure,” he said.
Rapana played a key role in Canberra’s charge to last year’s grand final, before departing for rugby.
He admits he returns down the pecking order after Canberra’s unbeaten start in 2020 before the NRL was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.
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Promising winger Bailey Simonsson replaced Rapana on one flank with Kangaroos representative Nick Cotric on the other.
Rapana conceded being down on fitness, having missed the NRL pre-season and forced into a two-week quarantine on his return from Japan.
“There’s no real fitness like NRL pre-season fitness where you’re actually running and got your hands on the ball,” he said.
“And because I was confined to a house and couldn’t really leave the perimeter of my block, I couldn’t really do much running.
“But I’m feeling fit, definitely fresh and healthy, and ready to go.”
Meanwhile, Raiders teammate John Bateman is no certain starter for round three as he continues his recovery from shoulder surgery.
“I had an injection last Friday, so it’s coming towards a week now,” the England star said.
“Hopefully it settles down and we’ll go from there really, get some full-contact training in.”
Originally published as Rapana’s startling rugby admission as returning Raiders star plots new career trajectory