Force snare former NRL rising star - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force snare former NRL rising star

30/06/2011 02:24:49 PM Comments (0)

The Western Force Super Rugby franchise have snared former budding NRL star Jordan Rapana on his return from a two-year Mormon mission in Britain.

The 21-year-old Rapana has agreed to a code switch which will see him reunited with his older brother Joelin, a Force rookie who played a part in attracting him to Perth.

The move comes as NSW Origin and Manly NRL star Will Hopoate prepares to leave on his own Mormon mission for two years at the end of the NRL season.

Rapana's commitment to his religious faith saw him opt out of the second year of a two-year contract with the NRL's Gold Coast Titans to spend the past two years doing mission work in England and Wales.

He had already made a strong impression with his footballing ability, scoring five tries in his five NRL matches for the Titans in his debut 2008 season after being signed straight from school.

He was also named in the NRL's Under-20s Team of the Year and selected to play for NZ Maori against the NRL Indigenous All-Stars before departing.

The New Zealand-born youngster was unable to participate in pro football programs during his missionary stint but said his time in rugby union strongholds including Gloucester, Worcester, Swansea and Cardiff helped rekindle his love of the code.

"I was brought up on rugby and our family is really passionate about the game," said Rapana.

"When I served my mission in England and Wales it happened to be in big premiership rugby cities and that definitely ignited the passion again for rugby.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge of moving back into rugby and I'm confident that if I put in the hard work during the off season that it'll be the right move for me.

"I was very fortunate to be given an opportunity to play in a professional environment straight out of school and I've set myself to do everything I can in local rugby and pre-season games to earn a place in the Western Force side next season."

Western Force coach Richard Graham invited theyoungster to trial in Perth after hearing of his return to Australia and was impressed with his dedication and ability.

"Having been away for two years and not part of a professional rugby program Jordan joined the squad in Perth and ran the second fastest GPS time we recorded this year," Graham said.

"He is quick, and aerially one of the best players I've seen in recent times, while he also possesses a very good all round skill set.

"Jordan is very keen to establish himself in rugby and we were extremely impressed with him as a person and a player during that trial period."

"I have no concerns about Jordan being able to quickly establish himself in rugby."

Rapana will remain at home on the Gold Coast and play with the Breakers in the Queensland Premier Rugby competition before joining his Western Force teammates ahead of the club's tour to Samoa in August where they'll play two matches against the Samoan Test team.

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