Talking points: Lock Raiders Papa in for Kangaroos
Advertisement

Talking points: Lock Raiders Papa in for Kangaroos

At the start of the season he wasn't going well enough to even make the Canberra Raiders 17, but by the end he's surely won back his Australian jersey.

Raiders lock Josh Papalii has been a standout for the Green Machine since he was dropped after round four.

He was also one of Queensland's best in their State of Origin series loss to the NSW Blues and showed why Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga will be recalling the Canberra big bopper after leaving him out of his World Cup squad last year.

Surely Josh Papalii will return to the Kangaroos line-up at the end of the season.

Surely Josh Papalii will return to the Kangaroos line-up at the end of the season.

Photo: Fairfax Media

As always, Papalii was tireless in the middle for the Raiders and was their only forward to pass the century in run metres with 136.

He also made 44 tackles in an 80-minute performance.

Advertisement

That's without mentioning the fact he barged over for the opening try of the game.

His one blemish was a sloppy play-the-ball that nine times out of 10 goes unpunished - now that the NRL's referee blitz has come to an end - but led to the Warriors scoring their first try.

He'll be joined by Raiders teammates Josh Hodgons, Elliott Whitehead and Jordan Rapana in playing end-of-season Tests, along with Joe Tapine (thumb) if he recovers in time.

Raiders winger Nick Cotric also showed why he'll be in contention for the Kangaroos train-on squad and the Prime Minister's XIII.

While he also had an early blemish - dropping a Shaun Johnson bomb - he also showed his power running that has him leading the NRL for tackle busts with daylight second.

Loading

He was the Blues' 19th man for Origin I and could find himself enjoying his first Kangaroos camp at the end of the season as they prepare for Tests against New Zealand and hopefully Tonga.

Raiders avoid unwanted record

It was a record the Green Machine never wanted and thanks to a rampant South Sydney - and a dismal Wests Tigers - it's one they won't have.

Souths racked up 51 points against the Tigers on Thursday night, which meant the Raiders needed to score 35 points to return to the top of the point-scoring table.

They finished with 16, which means they didn't become the first team in history to score the most points but miss the finals.

They fell 19 short, leaving the University of Sydney as the closest to achieving the feat - they fell six points short in 1933.

Dearly departed

Blake Austin's time in lime green ended in a manner that symbolised the Raiders' season - so close to glory.

He knocked on what would have been a stunning try from a freakish Rapana kick that could've won the Green Machine the game.

Loading

But he was unlucky to get the smallest of touches on a Roger Tuivasa-Sheck fumble.

It has parallels to the Raiders' season, where a lot of narrow losses left them wondering "what if?"

Austin will join Warrington in the English Super League.

Shannon Boyd departs for the Gold Coast after a lively game where he produced an intercept, made a try-saving tackle and was held up over the line in the second half.

It was a relatively quiet night for Junior Paulo, who will return to Parramatta.

Not in the right Mannering

It was meant to be a celebration of a club favourite, but it ended in an injury that could potentially end Simon Mannering's career.

The Warriors forward's 300th NRL game ended just two minutes into the second half when he was forced off with a sternum problem that left him grimacing from the sideline for the rest of the match.

They'll be sweating on Mannering's fitness, hoping he can get up for their first finals campaign since 2011 as he's set to retire at season's end.

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