12 September 2022

as seen on stuff.co.nz

Canberra captain Elliott Whitehead has hailed teammate Joe Tapine as the world’s best prop after the New Zealand international’s starring role in the NRL elimination final triumph over Melbourne.

Tapine was at his best in helping Canberra record their fifth straight win at AAMI Park, ousting the Storm from the finals with a 28-20 victory.

The 28-year-old’s contribution didn’t surprise Whitehead.

“He deserves every bit of credit he’s getting at the moment.”

Tapine appreciated the recognition coming his way recently, especially given he’s not eligible to share in the game’s State of Origin spotlight.

“I’ve been working hard all year and starting to see some good compliments and results out of it,” he said.

“I think everyone wants to be the best player in their position. I probably don’t get put in those conversations much, so I just work hard to try and get my name up there.

“It’s a bit tough when you’re not playing Origin, that’s pretty much the gold standard in rugby league, if you’re playing Origin, you get a bit more exposure.

“I’ve just got to work a bit harder to get that recognition.”

Tapine will lead Canberra’s forward pack into battle in a semi-final showdown with Parramatta – and former teammate Junior Paulo.

“During the game, you do all you can to try and hit them hard and they try to hit you hard,” Tapine said of the clash with Paulo.

“After the game, you’re still mates, so it’s easy.”

The only sour note from another successful trip to Melbourne was Tapine being placed on report after crashing into Storm halfback Jahrome Hughes.

But Hughes returned to the ground after the knock and Raiders coach Ricky Stuart is confident Tapine will have nothing to worry about.

shattered Craig Bellamy said his departing players, including skipper Jesse Bromwich, deserved a better send-off than the disappointing NRL finals defeat against Canberra.

The Storm’s season was ended abruptly on Saturday night by the Raiders who chalked up their fifth successive win at AAMI Park with a 28-20 victory.

The coach lamented their defensive lapses that allowed the Raiders to score a number of soft tries.

“We’ve been a bit patchy everywhere, our defence and with our attack as well,” Bellamy said.

“Some of it has come a little bit with some of the injuries in key positions and working out what fits best but other clubs have injuries too.

“I was pretty proud of them to even have a chance of top four with our last game but the last three weeks we’ve been really inconsistent.

“To score 20 points it should be enough to win a final but to let 28 in, you’re going to lose every time.

“It looked like they wanted it a bit more than we did.”

It was the last game for Bromwich and his younger brother Kenny as well as Felise Kaufusi, with the veteran trio all shifting to new NRL entry the Dolphins.

Hooker Brandon Smith is also on the move after signing with the Sydney Roosters.

With his voice wavering, Bellamy said it wasn’t the way he wanted to see his players go out, with the club making its earliest exit since 2014.

Jesse has played 295 games since making his Storm debut in 2010.

“They’ve all been tremendous for us,” Bellamy said.

“Jesse and Kenny have been here since 2008 – that’s a long time and they’ve done a lot for our club.

“I’m so disappointed for them, I think they deserve to go out on a better note than that.

“Fuse (Kaufusi) has turned into a State of Origin and Australian player and the other three have all played for New Zealand so they’ve done a lot of great things for our club and some great things for themselves since they’ve been here so it’s disappointing to be sending them out on this note.”

Bellamy said it probably wouldn’t sink in until the pre-season that his senior players had gone, while Bromwich also felt emotional about his departure.

“The game summed up our season – pretty inconsistent out there,” the Kiwi prop said.

“It was really tough – I’m sure when I’m cleaning out locker it will sink in but this place has done a lot for me and my family and I’m really going to miss it.”