Jordan Rapana re-signs with Canberra Raiders until end of 2019 NRL season
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Jordan Rapana re-signs with Canberra Raiders until end of 2019 NRL season

Canberra Raiders winger Jordan Rapana says he's learnt his lesson and vowed not to let his frustration get the better of himself again after he received a warning letter from the NRL for his double single-finger salute.

It came on the same day the Green Machine flyer announced there's no place like home - especially if you think you can win the NRL premiership there.

Canberra Raiders winger Jordan Rapana has extended his contract with the club for another two years.

Canberra Raiders winger Jordan Rapana has extended his contract with the club for another two years.Credit:Jay Cronan

The 27-year-old announced his two-year extension on Friday, which will keep him at the club until the end of 2019.

It's a timely boost for the Raiders as they prepare to face reigning premiers Cronulla at Canberra Stadium in a massive grudge match on Saturday night.

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Jordan Rapana flips the bird after he had his golden try disallowed against the Cowboys.

Jordan Rapana flips the bird after he had his golden try disallowed against the Cowboys.

But Rapana began his extension with a mea culpa, saying he'd learnt his lesson after the NRL sent him a warning letter for his double single-finger salute that came after he had a golden try disallowed against the North Queensland Cowboys last weekend.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart spoke to his players earlier in the week, letting them know they needed to be more disciplined after they were on the wrong end of an 11-4 penalty count against the Cowboys.

"Ricky's mentioned that to us, we need to cut those penalties down and it's something that we've assessed," Rapana said.

"I thought our defence was awesome and that frustration needs to get out of our game, especially from myself.

"It was a silly mistake from me and I've learnt from that and it won't happen again."

The two-year deal was something of a first for Rapana, who said he'd been signed on one-year extensions since he first joined the Raiders in 2013.

He made his NRL debut with the Gold Coast Titans back in 2008 before trying his hand at rugby union.

Rapana spent time with both the Western Force and ACT Brumbies as the New Zealand international went in search of a Super Rugby career.

But it was the Raiders that snapped him up after a strong season with the Queanbeyan Blues in the Canberra Raiders Cup.

There were two main reasons why Rapana wanted to remain in lime green.

Rapana has laid down roots in the ACT - his girlfriend is here and his bromance is here - and now the nation's capital feels like home.

The second reason was the Raiders' rise to premiership contenders last season also convinced him success is on the way and he "bloody hopes" it comes this year.

"It's a home for me, I've got a partner here and she's from Canberra. I love the club, the culture here is awesome and I really feel that we've got a premiership in us very soon. It's the place you want to be," he said.

A drought-breaking premiership's not the only thing Rapana will be chasing this year.

He's also got to catch up with the other half of the "Leipana" bromance, after centre Joey Leilua scored two tries against the Cowboys last week.

The pair are great mates off the field and share an instinctive bond on it, teaming up to become one of the most destructive centre-wing pairings in the NRL last season.

It resulted in Rapana scoring 23 tries - a Raiders record - in 2016, while Leilua chipped in with 11 of his own.

"They were two lucky tries, very lucky. I told him he owes me a couple because he could've passed it to me a few times, but he didn't," Rapana joked.

"There's always a little competition there and I think that's why we strive to do the best we can each week."

Raiders fullback Jack Wighton will play his first game of the year, after illness forced him to withdraw from last weekend's clash against the Cowboys.

He was a vital cog in the Raiders' attack - and defence - regularly injecting himself into the play and linking up with the wide men like Rapana.

Rapana said he would be a "massive inclusion", with the Raiders looking for their first win of the 2017 season.

"Jack's a massive body and a massive impact for us at the back defensively and strong in attack, so he's going to be a massive inclusion for us and get us on the front foot coming out of yardage," he said.

NRL ROUND TWO

Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks at Canberra Stadium, 7.30pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

Raiders squad: 1. Jack Wighton, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Elliott Whitehead, 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Junior Paulo, 9. Josh Hodgson (C), 10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Josh Papalii, 12. Sia Soliola, 13. Luke Bateman. Interchange: 14. Adam Clydsdale, 15. Dunamis Lui, 16. Jeff Lima, 17. Scott Sorensen. Reserves: 18. Jordan Turner, 19. Zac Santo.

Sharks squad: 3. Jack Bird 2. Sosaia Feki 19. Kurt Capewell 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Edrick Lee 6. James Maloney 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen. Interchange: 14. Jayson Bukuya 15. Chris Heighington 17. Fa'amanu Brown 18. Tony Williams 19. Kurt Capewell. Reserves: 20. Joseph Paulo 21. Jeremy Latimore.

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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