June 14, 2013 Jon Tuxworth
Sports reporter at The Canberra Times
Jordan Rapana. Photo: Colleen Petch
The Canberra Raiders are poised to sign exciting outside back Jordan Rapana for the rest of the NRL season as a replacement for injured winger Edrick Lee.
The NRL club suffered a massive blow when in-form Lee was ruled out for three months after breaking his arm in Monday night's win over Brisbane.
But Fairfax Media understands Rapana, who has been training with Super Rugby side ACT Brumbies, will likely be confirmed as a Raider by the end of next week.
Rapana's signing before the June 30 deadline means he is eligible to play for the Raiders this year. The 23-year-old burst onto the NRL scene in 2008 with Gold Coast, scoring five tries in five matches.
But he quit the game to pursue a Mormon mission in Wales and England, and later failed to forge a Super Rugby career in a short stint with Western Force.
Rapana will be given plenty of time to ease into the Raiders fold, and will start out with either NSW Cup feeder club Mounties, or in the local competition.
Meanwhile, Penrith fullback Matt Moylan will play against Canberra on Saturday after gaining an exemption from the NRL salary cap auditor on Thursday.
Moylan could not participate in last Sunday's clash with Wests Tigers because of second-tier salary cap restrictions.
With Panthers' Wes Naiqama ruled out of the Raiders game with an ongoing ankle injury, Penrith was keen to ensure Moylan was available and sought clearance from the NRL so he could play.
Panthers general manager of rugby league, Phil Moss, said while it was unfortunate to lose Naiqama to injury, it was a relief to be able to slot Moylan into the side - at least for now.
''While Matt will line up for us this week, it does not mean the second-tier salary cap issue has been solved,'' Moss said. ''We will just have to deal with it on a week-by-week basis at this stage.''
Under the second-tier salary-cap restrictions, the Panthers will still need to apply on a weekly basis to play Moylan, who is not part of the top 25 NRL squad.
The Canberra Raiders have confirmed the signing of former Gold Coast Titan Jordan Rapana for the rest of the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Rapana has been playing for the Queanbeyan Blues in the TTM Canberra Raiders Cup, but will join the Raiders NRL squad from today.
Making his debut for the Gold Coast Titans in 2008 Rapana left the NRL at the end of 2009 to take up a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in England and Wales.
Bill Tupou has left the Warriors with immediate effect and has signed for the Canberra Raiders. The winger has played 62 games for the Warriors since making his debut in 2010, but will leave the club on a two and a half year deal with the Raiders, Fairfax media reports.
IT now appears all but certain Test prop David Shillington will part ways with the Canberra Raiders in spring after the uneasy relationship between the former club captain and key members of the Raiders' administration and coaching staff collapsed this week.
In an odd turn of events, reformed Newcastle forward Willie Mason appears to have been the catalyst for Shillington to make the first decisive move, stepping down as a member of the Raiders' leadership group.
Mason has been outspoken in his criticism of what he describes as the self-centred attitude of some of the game's young stars -- mostly referring to former Raider Josh Dugan and his good friend Blake Ferguson.
THE NRL is set to block Canberra's attempt to have Blake Ferguson's suspension lifted once the NSW Origin winger appears in Waverley court on a charge of indecent assault on Tuesday.
The Raiders intended to lobby the NRL to re-instate Ferguson after his initial day in court, reasoning the charge was expected to be adjourned to a hearing at a later date.
But the NRL maintains Ferguson's suspension stands with the Raiders flyer still in the process of completing the alcohol management program he was ordered to undergo.
Ferguson was stood down after being charged with indecently assaulting a female patron at Cronulla's 2230 bar on June 18, with the NRL pledging to review the situation after four weeks.
On Tuesday, the four-week deadline arrives. The Raiders initially hoped Ferguson would be re-instated for Saturday's match against Parramatta in Canberra but the NRL has torpedoed the move.
"Our primary concern is the welfare of the player," NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle said. "The initial release talked of Blake entering a four-week program before the NRL would look at him being allowed to return.
"The program was agreed with the Raiders and independent experts. There was some delay in terms of Blake's involvement in that program and for his own sake we need to see him successfully complete those steps before he can return.
"This is not about a time period, it is about ensuring the player's welfare is being properly addressed and it would take compelling evidence for the matter to be revisited."
The Sunday Telegraph can confirm the issue of Ferguson's place at the Raiders has divided the playing ranks, with some players pushing for Canberra to tear up his contract.
A number of senior figures at the Green Machine remain furious at the way the troubled centre has dragged the club's name through the mud and have expressed this view to coach David Furner.
"I can understand some players being filthy at the way Fergo has brought the club into disrepute and our board has always been very strong on off-field standards," Furner said.
"But ultimately, the decision will not be solely up to me, nor the senior players or the board.
"In the end we'll make a decision based on what's best for the club and what's best for Fergo. Not everyone will agree and I know that. I know some people are frustrated."
In the past six months he had two off-field strikes next to his name and had been fined $10,000 by the Raiders.
Canberra winger Sandor Earl, allegedly under investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, has sought and obtained a Supreme Court injunction to prevent his medical records being published.
The 23-year-old Raiders three-quarter is, according to a report aired by the Nine Network last month, alleged to have been treated with peptides at a private medical clinic in south-west Sydney while at Penrith in 2011.
Fairfax Media can reveal that Earl has since obtained an injunction from the NSW Supreme Court after being told that another media outlet was in possession of ''copies of accounts relating to medical treatment'' provided to him by Dr Ijaz Khan at Cabramatta clinic Injury Care in late 2011 and early last year.
In a judgment delivered by Justice Richard White on June 20, lawyers for Earl were successful in preventing Nationwide News, publisher of the Daily Telegraph, printing the player's ''confidential'' medical information.
Canberra Raiders coach David Furner has dismissed speculation linking Anthony Milford to a move to Brisbane next year, insisting the rookie sensation is going nowhere.
Concerned the rumours could prove a distraction, Furner declared Brisbane junior Milford is happy at Canberra, and rejected reports homesickness could lure him to the Broncos.
The 19-year-old is contracted with Canberra until the end of next year, but reports on Sunday suggested a family illness get-out clause relating to his father could allow him to play at Brisbane next year. Fairfax Media understands the clause can be activated only with the consent of both parties, and Milford has told the Raiders he wants to stay.
Would be a handy signing for the Broncos if they are even after him. They really lack some class. It's one of the biggest issues holding them back. You can't fault their effort, just the class to finish teams off. I think Benji could be a good fit for them if they were willing to take a punt on him. I think he has gone stale at the Tigers personally.
Canberra Raiders CEO Don Furner said the club will wait until the end of the season before they discuss the future of fullback Anthony Milford.
“We acknowledge that we received the request from Anthony’s manager for a release from his current contract and out of respect for Anthony and his family we will wait until the season is over before discussing his future at the club,” Furner said. “We always treat welfare issues of our players seriously and we will meet with Anthony and his manager at the end of the year to avoid distraction as the team prepares for their remaining games of the season and a bid for the finals.”
“We want Anthony with us here at the Raiders long term and we will be doing all we can to keep him at the club and Anthony’s welfare is of the utmost importance to us,” he said. “We have been in negotiations with Anthony to extend his deal and we will wait until the season is over to continue these negotiations.”
Until this time the Raiders have no further comment on the issue.
CANBERRA slammed the door in the face of the Broncos on Friday, declaring rookie sensation Anthony Milford will not be granted a release from his Raiders contract and is no chance of playing for Brisbane in 2014.
The Raiders, fed up with clubs trying to poach their young talent, have put their foot down - asking the NRL to get involved in the Milford matter to ensure the young fullback sees out his contract with Canberra.
BLAKE Ferguson is torn between his loyalty to the Canberra Raiders and a craving to return to Sydney to be with his uncle, Anthony Mundine. The Daily Telegraph can reveal the blockbusting centre wants out from the final two years of his Raiders contract, which he signed less than 12 months ago. He will approach Raiders coach Dave Furner before the end of the season to formally ask for a release.
Every club in Sydney would want the NSW State of Origin star, who could ask for upwards of $500,000-a-season.
What is it at Canberra - Milford threatening to sit out a year - Ferguson whingeing and saying he'd like to leave - Dugan, Carney gone. Etc etc.
They have a great nursery there and produce some top players (eg Kite) but then the players fall foul of someone or thing and want to get out. Also - remember - they are locals - not from other areas like so many other Club "juniors".
Saints have picked up a few useful buys there - who were refused a real opportunity - eg Weyman - got a GF - Vidot, Thompson, Williams, Dugan, Harrison. I know you can't keep them all - we have lost so many - but there is a trend all right.
Problems leading to low morale can often be seen in two factors in any organisation - 1. non/low performance - when compared to expenditure and available skills, and/or 2. constant staff turnover. Canberra seem to have both.
By sacking Furner, Raiders directors are aware they triggered a clause in Ferguson's new $1 million two-year contract enabling him to become a free agent if there was a change of coach.
Ferguson, who is being advised by Anthony Mundine after splitting with his agent and uncle Bob Sutherland, told Fairfax Media he had made no decision on his future and was focused on helping Canberra make the finals by winning their remaining three games.
The Raiders have been boosted on the eve of the NYC finals series, with three of their most promising under 20’s stars agreeing to new deals with the club.
NYC Fullback of the year Jack Ahearn, centre Jeremy Hawkins and prop Jeff Lynch have all re-signed with the club for a further two season each and will be part of the Raiders NRL squad until the end of 2015.
All three players have been huge parts of the Raiders NYC teams’ success in 2013, with the under 20’s on the cusp of securing the minor premiership if they secure a win over the Warriors or Sharks in the last two weeks of the regular season.
The Canberra Raiders board of directors met today to determine the future of Blake Ferguson, with a unanimous decision to terminate his contract with the club.
“The board were left with little choice but to terminate Blake Ferguson’s contract, after several breaches of club policy,” Raiders CEO Don Furner said. “We are sorry that it had to come to this, despite providing ongoing support to Blake with the best welfare and counselling services available to us, in the end we were unable to continue doing so given the current circumstances.”
“The Raiders will continue to ensure we uphold our strong position in relation to player behaviour and welfare, for our members, sponsors and other stakeholders.”