Welcome to the first instalment in this series on players to watch in the 2021 NRL season.
Canberra trio Jordan Rapana, Joe Tapine and Nick Cotric could miss the Raiders’ NRL preliminary final through suspension and injury, but the two players on report aren’t worried they’ll miss any action.
Raiders winger Jordan Rapana and lock Joe Tapine were put on report while Nick Cotric was injured during their 12-10 win against Melbourne on Saturday.
Rapana was reported for a lifting tackle on Cameron Munster and Tapine was accused of a chicken wing tackle on Brandon Smith.
“We talked about about how Melbourne were trying to stand in the tackles and I just tried to lift him up and bum rush him you know, drag him back and he must have got caught in a dangerous position,” Rapana said.
“Personally I don’t think it was bad at all. I couldn’t see his head at the time so I got worried for a little bit that I might get sent off. But then when I re-watched it I thought that was a bit soft.
“I don’t think I’ll miss a week. I’ll be pissed off if I do and I’ll be telling Stick (coach Ricky Stuart) to go in firing if it has to go to the tribunal but surely not.”
Tapine said there was “definitely no malice” tackling his “good mate”.
“It was accidental. Brendon’s arm went back a bit and they said report for chicken wing. We’ll have a look at it, there was no intention or anything, he’s a good mate,” Tapine said.
“I hope it doesn’t cost me. It’s an important time of the year and some people get off with worse than that so we’ll see.”
Canberra and NSW winger Cotric accidentally copped a boot to the face while trying to tackle fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen in the first half.
The NSW representative broke his nose and failed a head injury assessment. He didn’t return to the game.
Raiders centre Joey Leilua wasn’t able to start the game after he injured his eye while running on to the field through fireworks.
Medical staff were able to remove a piece of black pyrotechnic shell from Leilua’s left eye and he played off the bench.
The Raiders were at virtually full strength heading into the game, with Hudson Young (suspended) the only one of their best 17 players who was unavailable.
Canberra host the preliminary final in two weeks.