Rapana facing two-match ban for shoulder charge, adding to Raiders’ selection woes

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Canberra veteran Jordan Rapana is set to miss the start of the season after earning the wrath of the match review committee for a shoulder charge in Saturday night’s All Stars clash at CommBank Stadium.

The Maori fullback was charged for a hit on David Fifita after the Indigenous forward sent Jesse Ramien racing away for the first try of the match.

Rapana is staring down the barrel of a two-match ban and cannot have the suspension reduced with an early guilty plea. The Maori won a spiteful encounter 16-10 in front of a vocal crowd of 26,755 at Parramatta.

Fifita suffered rib cartilage damage from the Rapana hit which looks set to keep him out of the Gold Coast’s trials but he should be right for round one.

Rapana can count himself lucky that he is not facing further time on the sideline – he was placed on report for another shoulder charge, on Ramien in the 20th minute, which sparked an on-field melee.

Speaking at half-time, Andrew Fifita wasn’t backing down from his involvement in the scuffle, telling Nine: “No regrets. I don’t care what anyone says.

“He should have been sent, to be honest. He’s sent one of our players already off the field, and he went to do it a second time.

“It is what it is, I just saw Joshie [captain Josh Addo-Carr] going in [during the melee] and I had to follow suit. I’m not gonna leave a brother behind.”

Rapana’s likely absence for next month’s opening round against Cronulla at GIO Stadium is a body blow for Ricky Stuart as the Raiders are skinny in the outside backs.

After releasing troubled centre Curtis Scott in the off-season, they also allowed Bailey Simonsson a year early from his contract to take up an offer at Parramatta.

Harley Smith-Shields recently suffered a season-ending ACL tear while captain Jarrod Croker is no guarantee of being fit for the start of their campaign after undergoing stem-cell surgery on his chronic knee problem over the summer.

The Raiders have former NSW representative Nick Cotric back in their ranks after a modest one-season stint at Canterbury and centre Seb Kris cemented a spot in the side last year.

Stuart will look to the likes of Matt Timoko, Xavier Savage and Semi Valemei to fill his vacant outside back spots with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad at fullback.

Canberra have added former Titans halfback Jamal Fogarty and Bulldogs forward Adam Elliott in the off-season as they attempt to return to the finals after finishing 10th in 2021.

Rapana avoided a conviction for drink driving in the off-season after being charged with drink-driving when he blew a reading of 0.098 in Maroochydore on September 27.

He was fined $500 and disqualified from driving for three months but no conviction was recorded.

The 32-year-old winger re-signed with the Raiders the previous month on a deal until the end of next year.

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