Jordan Rapana of the Raiders in action during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Canberra Raiders and South Sydney Rabbitohs at GIO Stadium in Canberra, Friday, September 27, 2019. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Jordan Rapana of the Raiders in action during the NRL Preliminary Final match between the Canberra Raiders and South Sydney Rabbitohs at GIO Stadium in Canberra, Friday, September 27, 2019. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Rapana’s NRL dream alive despite rugby defection

JORDAN Rapana's dream of back-to-back grand final appearances with Canberra is still alive despite the flyer signing with a Japanese rugby unin club

Top League powerhouse Panasonic Wild Knights announced Rapana's signature on a lucrative one-year deal via their website on Tuesday

The Top League 2020 season kicks off on January 12 and runs through until mid-May. It means any NRL club with a spot in their top 30 roster and room in the salary cap can sign Rapana for the remainder of the 2020 season and beyond. All clubs must finalise their top 30 squad for next season by June 30.

The Raiders are open to welcoming back Rapana in 2020 once his Japan rugby deal expires but there are a number of factors the grand finalists must consider - including whether or not there will be a spot for him in coach Ricky Stuart's 17.

Rapana, who helped guide Canberra to their first grand final appearance in 25 years, is currently on his honeymoon in the Maldives.

He will arrive in Ota, near Tokyo, as early as next week to begin preparations for his code switch.

Jordan Rapana is denied a try in the grand final. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Jordan Rapana is denied a try in the grand final. Picture: Phil Hillyard

The 30-year-old actually first arrived in Canberra back in 2013 on a development contract with the Brumbies but never made his Super Rugby debut.

Instead, Rapana made his club debut for the Raiders the following year and played 115 games for the Green Machine. In that time, Rapana forged a devastating right-edge combination with centre Joey Leilua and the tackle-busting duo were endearingly dubbed 'Leipana'.

But the budding bromance is officially over and it seems for good. There is speculation the Raiders are wiling to release Leilua from the final year of his deal with the club in a bid to ease salary cap pressure.

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