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Retirement, rehab and Vegas: Raider ponders his future

Jordan Rapana wasn't upset by those forecasting his latest injury would send him into early retirement, because the Canberra fullback was thinking the same thing.

But, just five games since injuring his knee against Parramatta, Rapana is set to wear the No.1 again.

For how much longer is the big question, Rapana turning 35 in August and admitting rehabilitation doesn't get any easier with age.

"I was probably writing myself off," he said ahead of the Raiders' Magic Round clash with Canterbury in Brisbane on Friday.


"It was pretty sore. A lot of emotions (were) going through my head at the time, one possibly being 'that was my last game'.

"I play each game like it's my last. Just fortunate that (game) wasn't."

Rapana is off-contract beyond this year and has ruled out another foreign rugby foray after his short-lived Japanese stint was interrupted by COVID-19 four years ago.

"It depends how the body's feeling," he said of another season of NRL. 

"I'd love to go again, but a lot can happen (this season). 

"Honestly I'm prepared to hang the boots up, but if I'm feeling good I don't see why not."

One thing may sway Rapana: the Raiders earning a slot in next year's Las Vegas opening round.

"I might ask 'Sticky' (Ricky Stuart) for a one-month contract," he grinned.

Stuart is celebrating a contract extension until 2029 and will be one of the stars honoured during the club's 30-year premiership reunion festivities set to coincide with Magic Round.

That didn't stop captain Elliott Whitehead from taking a cheeky dig at the coach after he was told Stuart, originally a rugby talent, had twice played at Brisbane's Ballymore venue that acted as Thursday's training base.

"Probably got run over a few times," he smirked.

The Raiders (5-4) sit seventh after a bye, while the Bulldogs (4-5) are one point outside the top eight. 

"Our next three games before a bye are pretty important for our season, and it all starts on Friday," Whitehead said.

"They (Bulldogs) have been in a rebuild for a few years now and it's finally come together and you can see that in games, that they're playing for each other."

Injured half Jamal Fogarty also took literal strides in his return from biceps surgery on Thursday, running at training for the first time as he targets a round-20 return.

"Three weeks in, still got another three in the brace and another six or so after that," he told AAP.

"We look forward to little milestones ... just to put the boots on and run around while the boys are doing captain's run, like a little kid again. 

"Raps (Rapana) too, he's such a little kid as well.

"He's one my favourites, and to see the old fella running out again, I know he'll do everything for the green jersey he can to win." 

Murray Wenzel and Jasper Bruce - AAP


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