Raiders star Jordan Rapana said he would jump at the chance to represent New Zealand at the Rugby League World Cup later this year, as the tournament's chief executive is set to visit NRL clubs and address any concerns and give assurances about player safety.
"I'm brought up here but I'm a proud Kiwi boy. I love putting on that jersey," Rapana, who has 11 caps for New Zealand, said.
"I've represented them in World Cups and many Tests and loved every minute of it. If given the chance again, I'd grab it with both hands and play my heart out."
The 16-nation competition was originally scheduled to take place in 2021 in England, but was postponed due to the impact of COVID-19 as many NRL clubs were wary of releasing players for international duty.
Now the Rugby League World Cup has been locked in to be held between October 15 and November 19 this year.
Having reached out to every NRL club as part of the tournament's re-launch, chief executive Jon Dutton will be following up with a trip to Australia in June. His meeting with clubs will occur over a fortnight, travelling up and down the east coast, to share his plan for running the event amid the pandemic.
"I'm keen to see as many people face-to-face as possible," Dutton said, confirming that Canberra will definitely be a stop on his visit to Australia.
"I understand Josh Hodgson has put himself forward to be on the player working group [promoting the event]."
Rapana said the club hasn't yet had any discussions with the internationals at the Raiders about potential international duties, however he said he would also be keen to have his family with him should he be selected for New Zealand.
"It would be cool for them to come over. My son is at that age now too where he's trying to see dad on TV," he said.
"I don't know when my last opportunity would be to play for New Zealand but if it's this World Cup I would definitely want him to witness it.
"I've had my vaccinations and travelling is the least of my concern.
"It's something you've just got to deal with now with COVID. To represent your country, especially in the World Cup, I've been able to play in two World Cups, and that's a pretty great achievement in itself. If I was able to play in a third, it'd be even better.
"But it's a long season ahead, and a lot can happen. I've got to make sure my form at the Raiders is where it needs to be to be selected, and to make sure I'm injury-free when I get to that stage."
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