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Rapana keen to face mate Proctor in NRL

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/09/2016 Roje Adaimy

Rapana, too, is enjoying himself more than he thought he could in the NRL. © Ashley Feder/Getty Images Rapana, too, is enjoying himself more than he thought he could in the NRL. Few would dare split up Canberra's lethal right-edge combination.

But if Jordan Rapana could separate himself from Joseph Leilua for one game, it would be against Melbourne in Saturday night's NRL grand-final qualifier.

And for one reason only: Storm back-rower Kevin Proctor.

The pair grew up on the Gold Coast, playing much of their junior football together, and have remained close mates ever since.

"I sent him a message the other day and told him 'I might try to ask (coach) Ricky (Stuart) if I can play left side so I can take your head off' - just to get that one shot on him," Rapana laughed.

"Nah, he's definitely one of my best mates. No doubt, I'll go see him when we get down there and go catch up for coffees."

They almost became teammates again last year, but Proctor turned down an offer from the Raiders to stay with the Storm - where he has been since 2008.

"Everything happens for a reason," Rapana told AAP.

"He's doing well down there so he's enjoying himself."

Rapana, too, is enjoying himself more than he thought he could in the NRL.

Just two years ago, he struggled to find the fun in playing rugby league as he fought for a spot in the Raiders' side following six years away from the game.

"It was all about setting a goal to try and just make the team," he said.

"But this year, I've been able to set weekly goals because I've really excelled - on a personal level - playing outside of Joey (Leilua).

"It's really taken my football to another level. It's an exciting style of footy we get to play here, and Ricky allows that.

"It makes me enjoy my football a lot more."

Rapana, who jointly won the coach's award at the Raiders' presentation night with Leilua on Monday, leads the competition for linebreaks and is the second-highest tryscorer with 22.

One more four-pointer and he will break the club's record for most tries in a season.

"It's a cool achievement but, to be honest, I really couldn't care less - as long as I try to do my job for the team each week," he said.

Rapana is off contract at the end of the 2017, but wants to remain a Raider for the long term.

"I'd love to stay here - it's where I've really enjoyed my football and we've got a great bunch of blokes here," he said.

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