He wanted to live life on the edge, but now Joe Tapine's happy being stuck in the middle.
Canberra Raiders forward Tapine produced his best game of the season in the lead-up to the massive clash against reigning premiers Sydney Roosters at Canberra Stadium on Sunday.
His fellow forward Sia Soliola has challenged the Raiders pack to set the scene against the Roosters forwards led by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
Tapine's hitting his straps after an injury interrupted 2019 has seen him miss seven games.
The New Zealand international started the year in the second row, with Raiders coach Ricky Stuart opting to use boom recruit John Bateman at lock.
But Tapine's thumb and ankle injuries saw Bateman move to the edge in his place to great effect.
It meant Tapine returned playing in the middle in round 11 and he's strung together nine consecutive games.
The 25-year-old has made the No.13 jersey his own and that's where he wants to stay in the run to finals.
"I think the Pommies are doing too good of a job. I'll probably stay in the middle and I'm enjoying my role at the moment," Tapine said.
"I get to play alongside [Josh Papalii] and Sia there and [Dunamis Lui] and we have a good little combination. I'm enjoying my footy in the middle at the moment."
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It means Tapine will come up against Roosters lock Victor Radley.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson has used Radley at hooker this season in the absence of Jake Friend, but he's back in his usual ball-playing role in the No.13 jersey.
Tapine said he enjoys watching Radley play and was looking forward to the test.
"He's a good ball player, quick, nippy, but he can also hit too," he said.
"He's an all-round good player. We've just got to focus on our game I guess."
It's a clash between two top-four titans - the second-placed Roosters up against the third-placed Raiders.
Whoever wins will take a significant step towards locking up second place and home-ground advantage in the finals.
The Raiders pack has been getting the Green Machine rolling all season and they've strung together four wins.
And Soliola said it's up to them to do it again against the Roosters, who are on a three-game winning streak of their own.
"The way the year's progressed, you always want to test yourself against the best," he said.
"Any good team that's going well is generally off the back of what their forwards provide and that's what the top teams are doing.
"That's where you want to challenge yourself. We're looking forward to playing against the Roosters pack because you want to see where you're at."
Soliola said the return of Ryan Sutton (calf) and Nick Cotric (suspension) - and potentially Joey Leilua (neck) - meant competition for spots would be fierce over the final rounds of the regular season.
"Guys will be up for selection. Not only Ryan, but [Hudson Young's] back, Nick's back and so you just don't know how [Raiders coach Ricky Stuart's] going to approach selection," Soliola said.
"At the end of the day Ricky's going to do what's best for the team and who he thinks his best 17 is."
NRL ROUND 21
Sunday: Canberra Raiders v Sydney Roosters at Canberra Stadium, 2pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.
Raiders squad: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Nick Cotric, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (C), 10. Sia Soliola, 11. John Bateman, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Joe Tapine. Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Dunamis Lui, 16. Corey Horsburgh, 17. Ryan Sutton, 18. Sam Williams, 19. Joey Leilua, 20. Emre Guler, 21. Michael Oldfield.
Roosters squad: 1. James Tedesco, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Latrell Mitchell, 4. Joseph Manu, 5. Brett Morris, 6. Luke Keary, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9. Sam Verrills, 10. Isaac Liu, 11. Angus Crichton, 12. Mitchell Aubusson, 13. Victor Radley. Interchange: 14. Nat Butcher, 15. Zane Tetevano, 16. Poasa Faamausili, 17. Sitili Tupouniua, 18. Lindsay Collins, 19. Drew Hutchison, 20. Matt Ikuvalu, 21. Lachlan Lam.