Jordan Rapana looking to extend time with Canberra Raiders
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Jordan Rapana looking to extend time with Canberra Raiders

It's another boost the Canberra Raiders in the lead-up to their bid to return to NRL finals, with star winger Jordan pledging he wants to stay in his home-away-from-home.

The New Zealand international also feels the Green Machine could avoid taking advantage of any salary cap relief because of the depth they have in the outside backs as he hopes to be back from his shoulder reconstruction as soon as possible.

Off-contract Raiders winger Jordan Rapana, left, hopes to re-sign with the Green Machine.

Off-contract Raiders winger Jordan Rapana, left, hopes to re-sign with the Green Machine.Credit:Jamila Toderas

Rapana's off-contract at the end of the 2019 season, but has started to settle down in Canberra - getting engaged to his now fiancee Kelsey Kopp during the off-season.

There's been preliminary talks between the Raiders and Rapana's management, but it's still early days.

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Rapana's keen to stay with Canberra beyond this season, as he closes in on his 100th NRL game.

This will be his sixth season in lime green, having made his debut in 2014.

"I haven't spoken to my manager too much. Obviously I want to stay here - I just got engaged, the missus is from here and this has become my home-away-from-home so I absolutely love it down here - so ideally this is where I want to be," Rapana said.

"I've briefly spoken to [Raiders coach Ricky Stuart] and he still wants me here too to be a part of this club. I hope my manager's on top of it and getting it sorted. I definitely want to be here still."

The NRL has given the Raiders the green light to get salary cap relief for Rapana, given he needed a shoulder reconstruction after he dislocated his shoulder playing for New Zealand last year.

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But it would mean Rapana wouldn't be available until round 13.

He backed Michael Oldfield to take his spot on the right wing in his absence - although Oldfield's also been training at fullback.

Stuart has bolstered his depth in both positions with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad's signing on a two-year deal.

Nicoll-Klokstad has his sights set on the No.1 jersey, but he can also play on the wing.

Brad Abbey and Bailey Simonsson were also options, with Simonsson getting plenty of raps for his efforts this pre-season.

Rapana felt that depth could allow the Raiders to avoid bringing in another player. That would allow him the chance to come back early and not be forced to sit out until round 13.

He was initially expected to return between rounds 11-14.

"Oldie's a quality first-grade player who has done a great job there in the past," Rapana said.

"Probably ideally I'd say Oldie, but there's some young talent coming through that can cover there too. I'm actually happy with the depth that we have there in that position.

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"With the depth that we've got, hopefully I can get back sooner rather than later too, so depending on that as it gets closer to the season have more of an idea with what time frame I'm looking at.

"For now I think [Stuart's] happy with the depth that we have in that position."

Rapana's back running and doing light weights with the next step to start contact and tackling.

He dislocated his shoulder twice during the Kiwis' second Test against England late last year.

"The rocky boulder's good, on the mend, happy with how things are going," he said.

"I honestly have no idea [when I'll be back] it depends on the medical staff, what they think, but for me I've just got to get it strong. There's still a while to go with it, but I'd say it's on track.

"It was pretty ugly, the main thing is it got all fixed up and the surgeon was happy with how surgery went and with the recovery process so hopefully sooner rather than later I'm back out there.

"[I'm] back running, doing light weights and stuff on it. Just waiting for the next part of the recovery process, which will be contact and tackling so hopefully not too far off that."

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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