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Papalii stays loyal to Raiders

Date

Chris Wilson

Raiders second-rower Josh Papalli is set to re-sign for three more years.

Raiders second-rower Josh Papalli is set to re-sign for three more years. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

He switched his representative allegiance from New Zealand to Queensland this season, but Raiders enforcer Josh Papalii is set to remain loyal to Canberra for another three seasons in the NRL.

The 20-year-old is poised to agree to a contract extension with the Raiders that would see him remain with the Green Machine until the end of the 2015 season.

Papalii comes off contract at the end of next season, but the Raiders have offered to upgrade his deal for next year on top of a two-year extension.

While Papalii is yet to officially sign, and has fielded interest from rival NRL clubs, it's understood he has held positive talks about remaining with the Raiders. Negotiations have been stalled by the Christmas break, but Raiders chief executive Don Furner is hopeful a deal will be completed in the new year.

''Josh was always the No. 1 priority re-signing for us in this off-season,'' Furner said. ''We were just waiting for the NRL to work out the 2013 salary cap and once that was done we immediately reopened talks with Josh's manager.

''Things are progressing well and I'm confident that we've offered Josh an attractive deal to stay.''

It's understood Papalii's deal will increase over the three-year period so that by 2015 he will become one of the highest-paid players at the club. It could also be boosted by representative incentives should he make his State of Origin debut.

It has been a big year of decisions for Papalii, who was at the centre of a representative tug-of-war between Queensland and New Zealand. The Auckland-born second-rower committed to the Maroons and has been rewarded with selection in Queensland's Emerging Origin squad.

After just 39 games in the NRL, Papalii has laid the foundation to become an enforcer.

He was this year voted by his NRL peers as one of the top-five hardest hitters in the NRL and he enhanced that reputation with his one-on-one duel against Cronulla captain Paul Gallen in the finals series.

Papalii will be part of a powerful back row for Canberra next year, including two-time Raiders Player of the Year Shaun Fensom and recruit Joel Edwards from Newcastle.

After an initial contract stand-off, veteran utility Shaun Berrigan has finalised a deal for next year.

The club is also looking to re-sign Blake Ferguson, Jarrod Croker and Joel Thompson early in the new year, with all three coming off contract at the end of next year.

Ferguson made his representative debut this year, while Thompson is among the top-10 in voting to make a fourth consecutive Indigenous All Stars team. ''Blake Ferguson, Joel Thompson and Croker would be the next three priorities,'' Furner said.

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