Rapana on mission to fill Brumbies' backs
Jordan Rapana gets a pass away at Brumbies training. Photo: Colleen Petch
Jordan Rapana's Mormon mission to Wales and England convinced him switching from rugby league to rugby union was the right decision and the former NRL rising star wants to make Canberra his home.
Rapana has been training with the ACT Brumbies and will play for Royals in the Canberra premier division this year.
The 23-year-old put his rugby league career with the Gold Coast Titans on hold for a two-year mission in Wales.
When he returned he signed with the Western Force, but after failing to make his Super Rugby debut last season, he is trying to impress the Brumbies.
Rapana doesn't have a contract, but the Brumbies gave him a chance to train with the top squad as a developing John I Dent Cup player.
Fellow Mormon Robbie Abel - who has just returned from his mission in Western Australia - has been given the same opportunity.
''I didn't really have anywhere to go [when my deal ended with the Force] and I got a chance to come over here and trial with the Brumbies,'' Rapana said.
''With a few injuries in the backs, I just started training but I didn't have a deal. This is a good opportunity for me so I'll play for Royals and hang around here to see how it goes.''
Rapana burst on to the NRL stage with five tries in his first five appearances. Instead of continuing a boom rise, the New Zealand-born winger chose religion over his career and opted out of the second year of his contract with the Titans.
He was tipped to return to league, but his time in the rugby union-dominated areas in England and Wales made him opt for a new challenge.
However, Rapana hasn't been able to recapture the sparkling form he showed when he was touted as the NRL's next big thing.
''Being around the union environment was great and I wanted to give it a crack. In a worldwide sense it's a bigger game and there are a lot more opportunities,'' he said.
''It's a big decision [to go on the mission] and a sacrifice knowing that after two years your body shuts down a bit. You've got to get your body fit and healthy again and it's taken me a year with the Force to get my body right again.
''Now after a year I feel fit and healthy … Now I feel fitter than when I went on the mission and ready to go if I do get a chance [with the Brumbies].''
Super Rugby pre-season: ACT Brumbies v Western Force at Rugby Park, Darwin, 9pm.