Kiwis winger Rapana can handle Kangaroos centre of attention Latrell
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Kiwis winger Rapana can handle Kangaroos centre of attention Latrell

It's a centre-wing pairing that would give you nightmares - Valentine Holmes is the "full package" and he's teaming up with arguably the best centre in the world in Latrell Mitchell.

But New Zealand flyer Jordan Rapana is confident both he and Sydney Roosters centre Joseph Manu can handle them.

Rapana and Manu will pair up on the Kiwis right edge in the Test against Australia in Auckland on Saturday.

Kiwis winger Jordan Rapana is confident him and Joseph Manu can handle Val Holmes and Latrell Mitchell.

Kiwis winger Jordan Rapana is confident him and Joseph Manu can handle Val Holmes and Latrell Mitchell.Credit:Grant Trouville/NRL Imagery

The Kiwis are looking to put a disastrous World Cup behind them and Rapana felt their mid-season Test against England was a stepping stone on that path.

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He was "gutted" to miss that Denver Test due to a hamstring injury, but the Canberra Raider is set to return to New Zealand's right wing to form a new pairing with Manu.

Holmes became one of the best fullbacks in the NRL this season, having already been one of the best finishers in the game.

Alongside him is Roosters beast Mitchell, who at just 21 established himself on the world stage as not only a member of the Roosters' premiership team, but also NSW's State of Origin winning side as well.

Now he'll go up against his NRL teammate Manu.

"[Holmes] is a quality player and he's quick. He's got good footwork, good fend, he's got everything, he's got the full package," Rapana said.

"I've just got to be confident and trust Joey as well. He's up against a wonderful centre in Latrell so we've got a big job on our hands, but I'm confident ... we can handle it."

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At 29 and with eight Tests under his belt, Rapana's one of the senior statesmen in the young Kiwis squad.

He'll look to use his experience as an on-field leader.

"On the field I like to think so [that I'm a leader] yeah. I'll go out and do my job to the best of my ability," Rapana said.

"That Denver Test from watching it on the outside, it was a stepping stone. We've had a big transition and a lot of new players and new positions.

"Our squad now is quite a young squad, a lot of talent, but I think [Kiwis coach Michael Maguire] is building something wonderful here and I'm grateful that I can be a part of it."

Rapana said the Kangaroos were going through a transition phase following the retirement of a raft of superstars.

Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk have called time on their international careers, leaving a few big holes for Australian coach Mal Meninga to fill.

In comes Damien Cook, James Tedesco and Daly Cherry-Evans, who'll have Luke Keary alongside him in the halves.

That's why the Raiders winger said they were still a quality side, something Kiwis prop Marty Tapau agreed with.

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Tapau was unsure how he fitted into the New Zealand line-up, but his role was a simple one - create "havoc in the middle".

The Manly aggressor said he wasn't focussed on the coaching dramas engulfing the Sea Eagles back home.

But he admitted it would be frustrating for the players that will return for pre-season in a few weeks not knowing whether Trent Barrett, who has given 12 months' notice to quit, or his assistant John Cartwright - or even someone else - will be their coach.

"I won't be there on the first week of November when pre-season starts, so I guess it will be more frustrating for the players going back into the unknown," Tapau said.

"I guess we've just got to wait and see.

"My 2018 season at Manly is finished now so I've switched off there and I'm more focused here on the New Zealand Kiwis."

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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