The Canberra Raiders have announced that fan favourite Josh Papalii has extended his current deal for a further three seasons to make him a Raider for life.
Twenty-eight-year-old Papalii was already signed until the end of 2022, but after some baseless speculation about a return to Queensland, the Raiders moved quickly to extend his deal to the end of 2024 with a further option for 2025.
Papalii has played his entire career for the Green Machine, racking up 215 games since making his debut in 2011.
He has become a cornerstone of the Raiders team and his emergence as the NRL’s premier front rower over the past two seasons has been a key reason behind the Raiders becoming premiership contenders.
Papalii said that Canberra is now home for his family and that he never wanted to play for anyone else.
“I love this club and I love Canberra,” Papalii said. “This is my home now and my family and I are very happy to be remaining with the Raiders and in Canberra.
“I came here as a junior player, made my debut here and played my 200th NRL game here and there’s no other club I want to play for.”
In a post-match press conference back in round 15, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart spoke glowingly of Papalii and the impact he has had on the club.
“Papa will go down as one of the greatest players ever when he retires,” Stuart said.
“He is one of the boys’ favourites, they love playing with him and I don’t underestimate anything that Josh has got.
“He’s got a wonderful motor. Very, very skilful guy for his size.
“I don’t say that lightly but he will go down as one of those greats of this club. It’s a very deserving accolade or piece of commentary because we’ve had some greats here.”
Papalii is beloved by Raiders fans for his hard running, brutal defence and never say die attitude.
His try against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in last year’s preliminary final to seal a spot in the grand final will be forever etched in fans’ minds while his chase down ankle tap on Jamal Fogarty earlier this season was one of the highlights of the year.
Papalii will play a major role leading the Raiders forward pack as the club looks to push deep into the finals this season.
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