Raider credits Tookey for his rapid rise - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Raider credits Tookey for his rapid rise

Ben Horne 30/07/2011 11:39:11 AM Comments (0)

ZPA - A former Warriors cult figure has been responsible for developing one of Canberra's key attacking weapons for Sunday's desperation NRL clash at Mt Smart Stadium.

Josh Papalii, the Raiders' second-rower in his debut season of first grade, has credited Mark Tookey with guiding his rapid progress - making him a rare success story from Canberra's under-achieving season.

Tookey, the rotund front-rower who played 67 games for the Auckland club between 2000 and 2004, first identified Papalii's talent when the teenager was playing for Woodridge State High School.

Bringing Papalii to his club and Raiders feeder team Souths Logan and coaching him in the under-20s, it was soon apparent to Tookey that the hard-tackling kid was ready for a move to Canberra.

From the SG Ball team last year, New Zealand born and Queensland raised Papalii made a meteoric rise through the Toyota Cup ranks, before head coach David Furner blooded him against Melbourne in mid-May.

The Raiders must win every match on their run home to be any chance of making the finals, and Papalii's damaging running on the edges is a major key to their success.

"I didn't think I'd be here this quick, I didn't think I'd even be here," said Papalii, who has followed mentor and teammate Bronson Harrison's advice and pledged his allegiance to New Zealand.

"Tooks had a lot to do with my development so I owe him a lot."

He might be fresh from a hat-trick, but Warriors beast Manu Vatuvei wants to be a more dominant force as the Warriors look to improve their position in the top eight.

In a year where he has had to battle back from a lengthy injury spell, Vatuvei showed against South Sydney last weekend that he hadn't lost his lethal scoring ability.

The giant winger's three tries in a 48-16 win took his season's haul to eight in 11 matches and 86 in 124 appearances for his career - a Warriors record.

But despite those statistics, Vatuvei says he wants to put defences under more pressure when he carries the ball.

"I've still got a lot to improve on, like my running technique and just trying to get good play-the-balls," he said.

"Last year my dominant carries were pretty high and this year they're a bit low.

"Last week was, I think it was my lowest for the whole year and I was disappointed with that.

"But to get three tries got my confidence up and made me want to work even harder."

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