15/08/2022 - WELLINGTON
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Something of a late-bloomer, game-breaking winger Jordan Rapana became one of Canberra Raiders’ finest servants of the past decade and a New Zealand Test debutant at the age of 27.

Wellington-born Rapana moved to Gold Coast as a 10-year-old came through the grades at Tugun Seahawks as well as attending famed rugby league nursery Palm Beach Currumbin High School.

A star of Gold Coast Titans’ under-20s in the inaugural NYC competition in 2008, Rapana made his NRL debut that year at just 17 years of age and scored five tries in five top-grade games. He also represented New Zealand Māori at the end of the year in a World Cup curtain-raiser against an Indigenous Australian team.

Rapana put his career on hold to embark on a Mormon mission, returning to the professional sporting ranks with Super Rugby side Western Force in 2012. He shifted to Canberra the following year, playing for Queanbeyan Blues in the local competition and earning a contract with the Raiders, before playing for Cook Islands at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

Returning to the NRL after a six-year absence in 2014, Rapana cemented a top-grade spot the following season on the wing (while also filling in at fullback and centre). He exploded for the burgeoning Raiders in 2016, however, scoring a club-record 23 tries as the club reached its first preliminary final since 1997. Rapana subsequently earned selection in the Kiwis’ Four Nations squad, making his international bow in a pre-tournament Test against Australia in Perth then scoring two tries against England and another four-pointer in the round-robin clash with the Kangaroos.

Dally M Winger of the Year in 2017 after scoring 21 tries – despite Canberra’s slide down the ladder – Rapana featured in that year’s Anzac Test and in three matches of the Kiwis’ World Cup campaign, crossing for tries against Samoa and Tonga.

In 2018, he scored a try in New Zealand’s momentous post-season victory over Australia at Mt Smart Stadium and played in two Tests abroad against England.

The dynamic and aggressive Rapana added a huge dollop of X-factor to the Raiders’ drive to the 2019 grand final but joined Japanese rugby union outfit Panasonic Wild Knights. COVID-19’s impact on the Japanese rugby competition saw Rapana return to the Raiders during 2020, however, and he regained a backline spot predominantly on the flank, but again filling in at centre and fullback over the ensuing two seasons.

The veteran debuted for Māori All Stars in the 2022 pre-season and won a Kiwis recall for the midyear Test against Tonga in Auckland, scoring a try and kicking five goals from as many attempts in the 26-6 win.

The 33-year-old advanced his NRL record to 94 tries in 180 games by the end of 2022 before heading to England as a senior member of New Zealand’s World Cup assault, where he the Kiwis’ scoring charts with 44 points from four tries and 14 goals from 18 shots in four matches. Rapana managed a 14-point haul against Lebanon and scored two tries against Ireland, while he bagged another try and booted a crucial go-ahead penalty goal late in the streaky quarter-final win over Fiji.


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