Early starts get Papalii back on track

09 February 2018 07:26:30 EST

Samoa international Josh Papalii feels happy with his fitness now he's come through some gruelling workouts in Canberra's pre-season.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart wasn't happy with Papalii and his Samoa teammates Joey Leilua and Junior Paulo when they returned from their World Cup duties.

Papalii said the Green Machine had put him on a course of early morning workouts so that he'd be ready for the start of the NRL season.

He's experienced a gruelling regime of cardio work on the treadmill and rowing machine, as part of a group of players who hadn't made their skin-fold targets.

That involved him getting up at 5am, but he conceded he'd needed to put in the work after returning from the tournament.

"I didn't come back in too good a shape and I was told by Stick [Ricky Stuart] to work my butt off in pre-season and I have done that," added the 25-year-old, who has also changed his diet during the pre-season.

"Having two kids now, you sort of get a bit carried away going to the canteen when your little one wants a lolly or a chocolate there. I'm pretty healthy at the moment," said Papalii. "My bodyweight is down and my body fat is getting there, and I am just trying to get back to 2016 form.”

Canberra head to to Queensland next week for a training camp ahead of their trial match against the Bulldogs at Sunshine Coast Stadium on 17th  February, in which they're likely to trial several news players, including new signings Siliva Havili and Craig Garvey.

The Raiders are 5000/1 to win the grand final.

Canberra are 1000/1 to finish in the top eight.

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