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Monday's Expert

Round 13 - will it prove lucky for the Raiders or Parramatta?

Mark June 10 in the diary - that's when we'll finally know what colour jersey Josh Papalii will be wearing next season.

Raiders fans will be hoping he suits up in the lime green and reverses his decision to join Parramatta on a three-year deal.

Papalii will be in action for the Raiders on June 10 in a Monday night game at Canberra Stadium against the Brisbane Broncos in the final fixture of round 13.

Once that round is complete, the NRL starts registering contracts for the following season and it is the deadline for the Raiders to convince Papalii to change his mind.

It's a bizarre situation and one that old-school club officials who used to operate on verbal agreements struggle to comprehend.

From a purely business point of view, the player agent has executed his job perfectly.


Lock a lucrative deal into place, but give the player's existing club time to source additional funds, whether it's through third-party deals, back-ending contracts for other players or releasing players under contract, to increase its offer.

Wests Tigers utility Tim Moltzen is the most recent case, deciding to renege on the Dragons to stay in Sydney's western suburbs in 2011.

Both the Raiders and Eels would want the Papalii situation resolved sooner rather than later so it doesn't impact on their ability to recruit and retain existing players.

Papalii was one of the Raiders' highest-priority signings and, as late as last Tuesday, they met with Papalii's manager to discuss a contract extension.

That's where the wires appear to have been crossed. Call it a case of mis-communication, or something more sinister, but the Raiders were allegedly informed that if they matched the Eels' offer of $400,000, Papalii would stay in Canberra.

He also reportedly told Raiders teammates he wanted to remain in the capital.

What the Raiders weren't aware of was Papalii signed with the Eels almost a fortnight earlier, for a deal reportedly worth $100,000 more a season.

Papalii doesn't look great as a result of this.

We won't know the full story until he gives his version of events.

Papalii was off-limits to the media after Saturday night's trial with the Bulldogs in Goulburn, with his only quotes about his signing coming via the Eels' statement.

The Raiders spotted Papalii through their association with the Souths Logan club in Brisbane, and brought him down to play in their S. G. Ball (under-18) team.

They relocated his family to Canberra last year, and were so confident he would re-sign that they allowed him to be photographed for the cover of our NRL season guide.

Imagine the Raiders' shock when the Eels released a statement on Friday night saying they had signed the hard-hitting forward until the end of 2016.

You can't begrudge a 20-year-old accepting that sort of money.

The New Zealand-born player's mix of strength, ball-playing ability and aggressiveness gives him the potential to be one of the premier second-rowers in the game for the next decade.

Whichever club he ultimately chooses will reap those rewards.