Canberra Raiders player Jordan Rapana works occasionally as a barber at John Brennan Hair in Belconnen. Rapana was selected for the Cook Islands for the upcoming rugby league World Cup. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
He started the year moonlighting as a barman while trying to win an ACT Brumbies contract and now cuts hair in a Belconnen salon while chasing his rugby league dreams with Canberra Raiders.
But Jordan Rapana hopes a whirlwind journey to the rugby league World Cup - which includes a two-year Mormon mission, which halted his career - puts him back on the NRL radar.
The Raiders winger hasn't played an NRL match since leaving the Gold Coast Titans at the end of 2008 to go on his Mormon mission in England and Wales.
Jordan Rapana pulled beers while trying out for the ACT Brumbies. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Five years later the same countries can relaunch his career when plays for the Cook Islands at the World Cup from October 26 to November 30.
Just four months ago he was pouring beers, working as a security guard and a waiter while training with the Brumbies.
But a midyear code swap back to his ''home'' in rugby league and trading his barman duties for scissors and a razor has Rapana convinced he's ready to star at the
World Cup. ''Cutting hair is something I've always done, my mum does it and one of my good friends owns a salon in Canberra so I thought I might as well learn about it for something to fall back on,'' Rapana said.
''I've just been going with the flow, it's just something different for me. But it's all around my footy, I want to give the NRL a crack and play well in a World Cup, it's an exciting time.''
Rapana's rise back to rugby league is the reverse situation to superstar Sonny Bill Williams.
Williams is considering a move back to rugby union after leading the Sydney Roosters to the NRL premiership last weekend.
But while Williams considers million-dollar offers, Rapana is cutting hair in Belconnen in the Raiders' off-season.
''Sonny Bill is a freak. He can swap between rugby union and rugby league easily,'' Rapana said.
''But for me, being back in league feels more comfortable, I'm happier and more at home. I've got no doubt this can be a stepping stone for me to play NRL.''
Rapana qualifies to play for the Cook Islands because of his biological father's heritage.
The Cook Islands aren't expected to challenge for the title, but Rapana hopes it can force its way into the quarter-finals and in the process help him impress new Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.
Rapana was one of the NRL's brightest stars when he burst on to the scene in 2008, scoring five tries in five games for the Titans.
But his faith took priority and he travelled around England and Wales on his Mormon mission before trying to make a switch to rugby union when he returned.
The Brumbies offered him a training spot this year.
However, he turned back to league when the Raiders gave him a mid-season lifeline to chase an NRL spot.
Rapana didn't play a game this year, but he hopes Stuart will see him shine on the international stage.
''I'm over the moon. I'm so happy to be playing in a World Cup. I always flash back and wonder what I would do if I was at the Brumbies still,'' Rapana said.
''I didn't adapt to union that easily and when I played my first game back in league I was really excited, I feel like I made the right decision.''