April 24, 2018
Sports

Josh Papalii has got his ‘spark’ back

"I was pretty good with it, I probably agreed with Sticky on the call dropping me back," Papalii said.

"I obviously went back and for Mounties we didnt get a good win, but I got used to playing in the middle and thats where I came on on the weekend [for the Raiders] as well.

"I just copped it on the chin like most players would. Sticky said I wasnt in form and dropping back for one week didnt hurt.

"Hopefully Ive found a bit of spark in my career, coming off the bench wasnt too bad so hopefully Im named in the week coming up against Souths.

"It didnt hurt going back and playing a bit of second grade footy. I got used to a role Im not used to.

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"Ive been in these shoes before. I got dropped back to Souths Logan footy when we were with Souths Logan back in the day.

"Sometimes to try and get that spark you need to take a few steps backwards and come back a better player, and I think thats what Ive done."

Papalii could be set to take his place in the middle third again this week as the Raiders hunt for a third consecutive win, but the 13-Test veteran still isn't getting ahead of himself.

He says his top priority is simply being selected in Stuart's side to face the resurgent Rabbitohs – then he can start to think about where he will be playing.

"Im not sure [what position I will play], I dont pick the team. Whatever, in the green jersey," Papalii said.

"I think [the focus is] trying to keep the boys hungry again and keep them focused for one more week. Playing our kind of footy and stop worrying about other teams.

"Obviously it has worked for the last two weeks and hopefully we carry it on for the rest of the year."

Papalii's lucrative Raiders deal comes to an end this season and he has been linked with a host of rival clubs – one of which he comes up against this weekend in South Sydney.

But he says the uncertainty swirling around his future hasn't played on his mind and his solid return to the top grade – featuring a try, 132 running metres, four tackle busts and a line break – was driven by a desire to help the Raiders, not aid his chances of scoring a big money deal.

"At times for other players, but Im pretty good with off-field stuff and all of that. If youre playing good enough footy, that looks after the rest," Papalii said.

Did he fear being dropped would seriously affect his market value?

"Not really."

Papalii has the spark back – he will let his football do the talking.

NRL ROUND SEVEN

Saturday – South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canberra Raiders at Central Coast Stadium, 3pm. TV: Live on Fox League.

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Caden Helmers

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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