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Western Force is Rapana's new mission

By Chris Pike
30 June 2011 11:37AM EST

WESTERN Force have eased the loss of playmaker James O'Connor slightly, by securing former NRL young gun Jordan Rapana on a two-year deal.

Rapana will head west after recently returning to Australia following a two-year religious mission in the UK.

A commitment to his Mormon faith saw him opt out of the second year of his contract at the Titans and he spent the next two years abroad based in the rugby heartlands of England and Wales - which rekindled his love of rugby.

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

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."

Drafted by the Gold Coast Titans directly from high school, Rapana was the youngest player in the club’s history on his debut in 2008.

He played five NRL games and scored five tries, including two against the Roosters in his first match.

Such was his impact Rapana was named in the U20’s Team of the Year, and picked for the NZ Maori side against the NRL Indigenous All-Stars in the curtain raiser for the 2009 Rugby League World Cup.

“Having been away for two years and not part of a professional rugby programme Jordan joined the squad in Perth and ran the second fastest GPS time we recorded this year,” Force coach Richard 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.

The 21-year old is the younger brother of Force rookie Joelin Rapana, who played a hand in getting him to Perth.

“Joelin spoke to me a lot about the club. He really loved being in Perth and said the programme was excellent. His words of encouragement helped make the decision to come to WA very easy,” Rapana said.

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