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Rapana buzzing to wear Kiwis jumper

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/10/2016 Angelo Risso
Rapana has been one of the NRL's form wingers this season, scoring 23 tries and making 26 line-breaks, leading the competition in both categories. © Ashley Feder/Getty Images Rapana has been one of the NRL's form wingers this season, scoring 23 tries and making 26 line-breaks, leading the competition in both categories.

Kiwis call-up Jordan Rapana says his unorthodox journey to the top makes his selection for the Four Nations rugby league campaign all the sweeter.

Rapana, 27, was named in new boss David Kidwell's 24-man squad on Tuesday for next weekend's Test against Australia in Perth and subsequent Four Nations in England.

The selection of the Raiders winger comes off the back of a stunning NRL season for the green machine, bagging 23 tries and 26 line breaks as the side marched upon the final four.

Yet Rapana was almost lost to rugby league when, after a debut season with the Titans in 2008, he packed his bags and departed for a two-year Mormon mission.

He then arrived at the Raiders at the end of 2013 via stints in Super Rugby and park league, slowly working his way into first-team consideration.

The native Wellingtonian told NZN he was over the moon with his selection and couldn't wait to wear the black and white jumper for the first time.

"It's been a goal from the start, a childhood dream to play for the Kiwis," Rapana said.

"Looking back at it, it felt like I played consistently enough this season to earn the jersey rather than have it given to me."

Rapana said his stint outside the NRL made him better appreciate the privileges of life in professional rugby league and gave him a better sense of perspective.

That mental focus helped him add much-needed consistency to his exciting gameplay.

"I probably appreciated my debut for the Raiders more than my debut for the Gold Coast when I was 18 years old," Rapana said.

"I knew how hard it was to leave the game and it was even harder to get back in it."

Kidwell, for his part, said Rapana had forced his hand with mesmerising displays on the Raiders flank and suggested the winger would be in line for a starting berth.

The new boss already had a run-on XIII in mind for next weekend's Test.

"His form has been exceptional and he's really picked himself to be in this squad," Kidwell said.

The Kiwis will meet in Perth next week before next Saturday's clash with the Kangaroos.

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