HIS BROTHER hopes his name will be read out by Queensland selectors on Monday, but it’s a former fringe NRL player who is helping John Papalii keep his own NRL dream alive.
Having played for the Canberra Raiders under-20s last year, Papalii is playing park football as elder brother Josh’s career goes from strength to strength.
Raiders back-rower Josh is a chance of earning a maiden Maroons jersey as Queensland looks to keep its hopes of an eighth straight series win alive at Suncorp Stadium on June 26. But away from the bright lights of Origin, his brother has been taken under the wing of former NRL forward Clifford Manua.
Manua played 10 NRL games for Cronulla, Brisbane and Melbourne, his four games for the Storm coming in 2008 when the club was stripped of a premiership. He is helping instil Storm coach Craig Bellamy’s no-nonsense work ethic into the Bulls, especially back-rower Papalii.
”I think Johnny’s at that stage at the moment where he doesn’t know whether he’s going to keep trying to pursue it [NRL], or he’s going to go somewhere else,” Gungahlin captain-coach Josh Ayers said. ”He’s obviously got the talent there, but he’s sitting there thinking what else he has to do. I’ve met Josh a couple of times, on the field they can both hit like nothing else, but off it they’re quiet and respectful. It’s like two different people.”
Ayers said the addition of Manua to the pack had been a timely confidence boost for Papalii.
”Cliffy’s more than happy to throw his two cents in at training, grab blokes like John and say this is what you should be doing,” Ayers said. ”He loves to have a laugh but when it comes to training, everything’s 100 per cent and flat out. I dare say he got that quality from Bellamy. With him and ‘Toots’ [assistant coach Jason Croker] here it’s made me a better player and a better coach.”
After upsetting last year’s grand finalists Queanbeyan Kangaroos in round two, Gungahlin has won just once more – against winless West Belconnen. The Bulls travel to fourth-placed Goulburn on Sunday, and must win to keep within striking distance of the top four.
Canberra Raiders Cup (all games 3pm): Woden Valley v Belconnen United at Phillip Oval; Goulburn v Gungahlin at Goulburn Workers Arena; West Belconnen v Queanbeyan Blues at Raiders Belconnen; Queanbeyan Kangaroos v Tuggeranong at Freebody Oval
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.