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July 14th, 2018 by admin

Josh Papalii hopes Raiders can ride the representative high into 2017 NRL season

Josh Papalii has been picked in the Australian side again. Photo: Jay CronanJosh Papalii has urged his Canberra Raiders teammates to use their representative experience as a building block for their 2017 NRL premiership dreams, adamant the extra workload can make the Green Machine even better next year.
Nanjing Night Net

Papalii is no longer the odd-man out at Raiders headquarters with six of his teammates earning representative honours for a blockbuster end of year Four Nations tournament.

Papalii’s teammates joke that he’s the “grandpa” of the Raiders because of his Canberra, Queensland and Australian experience despite being just 24 years old.

But Papalii says a core group of Raiders are now poised to step up as leaders after the club’s best season since 1995 paved the way for a lime green representative influx.

“You definitely bring back a bit of confidence after playing in rep teams,” Papalii said

“When you’re at that level on the field with other stars of the game, if you’re playing next to Johnathan Thurston or Cameron Smith, you’re obviously going to come back [to the Raiders] with confidence.

“You understand rugby league a bit more and look at it a bit differently. You see what other guys do and see why they’re at the top of the game.

“The club here is on the up and hopefully we can keep that going for plenty of years to come.”

Papalii returned to training this week and said the heartbreak of the end of the Raiders season added extra motivation to his Australian Kangaroos campaign and preparations for next year.

“It’s pretty hard to watch a grand final especially when you’re not there and you know how close you were,” Papalii said.

“The hardest thing is not knowing how far you’ll get next year so you’ve got to put a lot of hard work into the next couple of months and hopefully we do get there.”

Prop Shannon Boyd will join Papalii in the 24-man Australian squad, while Joe Tapine and Jordan Rapana (New Zealand), Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson (England) and Junior Paulo (Samoa) will play in representative teams.

Papalii is only one of five Raiders players to make their Australian debut in the past 10 years, but Boyd could join him and Jarrod Croker and Joey Leilua were overlooked because of injury.

It’s an indication of the Raiders’ on-field revival and recognition of their form after finishing second on the ladder at the end of the regular season and making their first preliminary final in 19 years.

The Raiders have had minimal representative players in recent years and coach Ricky Stuart said last season the club wouldn’t turn its fortunes around until there were rep players in his squad.

The Green Machine now has representative experience and talent in their group to match their lofty ambitions.

Papalii, who was a joint winner of the Mal Meninga Medal as the Raiders’ best player this year, is nursing a slight ankle injury after damaging ligaments in the Raiders’ semi-final win against the Penrith Panthers three weeks ago.

“To get in the green and gold jersey is something you always want,” Papalii said.

“The biggest thing people forget is that we’re still a young squad and we’ve got young players.

“I’m still 24 and I’m one of the oldest … I walk into training and the guys call me grandpa and things like that. Maybe it’s my white hair, that can’t help.

“But this is definitely good for the help, we want rep players here and we’re making rep players which is a massive thing. It just shows where the club is going. I definitely see the Raiders going upwards.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.