Family big factor in Papalii re-signing at Raiders
Canberra Raiders backrower Josh Papalii said securing his playing future on the field and his family's off it were the big reasons why he put pen to paper on a new four-year deal to stay in the nation's capital until 2022.
After a slow start start to the season, lately Papalii has been showing why he is one of the best forwards in the competition, consistently standing out as one of the Raiders' leaders and starring for a beaten Maroons outfit in State of Origin I.
However, a demotion to Intrust Super Cup earlier did provide an unexpected speed-bump to his goal of eventually retiring as a one-club player.
"Security was the biggest key behind my contract but like I said from the start of my career, once a Canberra Raider always a Raider," Papalii said.
"So, I'm happy to sign again for four years and keep the green jersey on my back. That will be me to 30 and hopefully I'll still be getting better as age goes on, but in saying that it's a long time away and I'm still concentrating on this season."
Papalii was heavily linked with a move to South Sydney but said his life on and off the field in Canberra made it an easy decision to stay.
"I had my options there, but I've got two kids and a partner myself and you take that into perspective and the best option for them and my footy career was to stay here," he said.
"It wasn't hard at all (to stay)."
Having been at the club since he was 16, Papalii's re-signing could not come at a better time for Canberra having recently lost Shannon Boyd (Gold Coast) and Junior Paulo (Parramatta) for next season.
With the likes of Liam Knight and Jack Murchie coming through the ranks at the club, Papalii said he hoped to be a leader in his own unique way.
"In some way yes, but the way I carry myself with the boys they probably think I'm younger than them," he said.
"I just like to be myself and if they see me as a leader then so be it but I don't like putting a tag on myself. But when it does come to the field I like to take a leadership role."
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said the decision to stitch Papalii to a long-term deal was made easier given how he handled his demotion this season.
"He's a really big influence on a number of other players especially with how he's turned his game around," Stuart said.
"He's such a pro when in regard to his preparation, the way he's playing at the moment and taken his game to another level moving into the middle is a big bonus for us as a club.
"After the hiccup at the start of the year with how he came back from the World Cup, the way he's turned himself around and changed his attitude towards his lifestyle and preparation to get him to where he is today, it (offering a four-year deal) was quite easy."
The Raiders are also set to announce the re-signing of halfback Aidan Sezer, with Stuart confirming terms had been agreed to on an expected two-year deal.
The news could not come at a better time for the Raiders as they face two crucial games in the next fortnight if they are to make it into the top eight, starting with the Wests Tigers on Sunday.
"They started the season on fire and they were very consistent and they're a very enthusiastic football team," Stuart said of the Tigers.
"They have a good chemistry and they're going to be very hard to beat."