In the Sheds: Jordan Rapana
If it was any other day then Raiders winger Jordan Rapana's match-winning try in Canberra's thrilling 29-25 win over the Knights may never happened.
Rapana dislocated his right shoulder in the first 15 minutes in an effort to help Blake Austin stop Knights winger Nathan Ross from making any inroads in the Raiders' defence.
The void left by the Cook Islands representative was certainly felt with the Knights at the time amidst their run of four tries in a 12-minute spell.
Yet Rapana went well and above the call of duty to return from his shoulder complaint midway through the second half and was duly rewarded with the match-winner in the final second of the first half of golden point extra time.
Coincidentally Austin's miss in defence which led to his injury was somewhat paid back with the Raiders five-eighth's atrocious third attempt at field goal in golden point uncoventially bouncing back into the hands of Rapana for his 11th try of the season.
"I'm not sure what happened [in the tackle] but my shoulder just popped out. It just dislocated. It stayed out too so I had to roll around there and yank on it," Rapana informed NRL.com of his gruesome tale.
"I've dislocated the other shoulder a few times but never the right side so after I pulled on it, it went back in finally. It was just aching and throbbing, it felt really weak and like it was going to come out again.
"So I came off, got strapped up, had a needle in it, banged it up on the sideline to see how it pulled up and it felt good so I went back out there."
A sideline fitness test – which was him essentially tackling Shaun Fensom non-stop for several minutes – gave Rapana the green light to return to the field in another sign of the Raiders' 'never say die' attitude.
Down 22-0 after 39 minutes, Canberra somehow managed to peg back the game until the scoreboard eventually read 25-all at full-time, Rapana's try in the end proving the difference.
"A whirlwind about sums up the game in a nutshell. We had an attitude where we were never going to give up and that's why we have improved on where we were this time 12 months ago," Rapana said.
"We were in a lot of close situations last year which we couldn't close out. But this one just came down to the luck of the bounce really too."
The Raiders' win sees them consolidate a place in the top six of the NRL Telstra Premiership and in Rapana's case, he had nothing but belief in his side's ability to go on to bigger and better things at the pointy end of the season.
"The culture here is outstanding. The boys here and the club have so much potential. We have so much belief here and we believe we're genuinely striving towards plenty of achievements and moving in the right direction to do so," Rapana said.
"The change in culture that Ricky (coach Ricky Stuart) has provided has definitely been the biggest thing I've seen amongst the boys. There's a lot of confidence here at the moment."
Written by Jack Brady | This article first appeared on NRL.com
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