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Raiders' Papalii accepts leadership axing

NZN 22/02/2017 Matt Encarnacion

Canberra forward Josh Papalii has narrowed his focus on producing on the field after an off-field incident resulted in his dumping from the NRL club's leaders group last month.

Papalii is still awaiting further punishment from both the club and police after being involved in a drink-driving offence in late January.

However, he has already paid a price for the latest in what is a long line of indiscretions, receiving a stern talk from both coach Ricky Stuart and captain Jarrod Croker.

He also had off-field incidents in 2013 and 2014.

"We had long chats about off-field incidents. You don't want to be a young fella coming through Canberra, one of your leaders doing what I did, and trying to look up to that," Papalii told AAP.

"It's not an example we set here. It's not Canberra standards. I've hopefully learnt from my mistakes and move on from here."

Papalii, who would've been considered in the frame to skipper the side in the absence of injured skipper Croker over the first few rounds, admitted he had a lot to learn about leadership.

He said he was still pained by the decision.

"If it didn't hurt, it'd mean I didn't care. Sticky's (Stuart) come in with goals and requirements and responsibilities as leaders," he said.

"Obviously I didn't follow that, and you have to pay for what you've done. That's only one of the things I have to go through to get my life back on track. You've just got to do it."

The 24-year-old said he hadn't given thought to trying to work his way back into the group, and has instead honed his focus on producing on the field.

Papalii was one of the Raiders' strongest performers last year - their best season in more than 20 years.

"At this stage I'm just trying to get ready for the season. I'm not thinking about being a leader or doing this and that, because once you're on the field, no one remembers that stuff," he said.

"Everyone remembers who you run out with, who runs the ball, who tackles, who makes those saves. That's all I can do from here - give my 100 per cent for the boys."

The Queensland Origin representative also revealed he's heading into next week's season-opener underdone as he continues to recover from off-season surgery.

He played just 20-minutes during the trials and it is a stint he was unhappy with.

"I was pretty filthy when I come off, just because I done nothing in that 20. I was pretty disappointed. To be honest, it wasn't enough for myself but Sticky's got other plans," he said.

"It's the first time I've done my ankle and it's about managing it because it's still not 100 per cent. It's more about the confidence side for me, but I should be alright."

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