Papalii: I've got my spark back
Josh Papalii admits he was stung by being dropped from the Canberra Raiders side and is happy to have made a quick return.
The backrower was one of two big names sent back to reserve grade by coach Ricky Stuart in the wake of their winless month to start the season. It came in the wake of his poor showing at last year's World Cup and his battle to be fit during the pre-season.
But the Origin and Kangaroos forward impressed when restored to the side for the 18-2 win over the Eels at the weekend. He ran for a team-high 136 metres, despite coming off the bench at GIO Stadium.
The 25-year-old said he'd "copped it on the chin" when he was demoted by Stuart.
"Sticky [Stuart] said I wasn't in form and dropping me back didn't hurt," said Papalii. "Sometimes to get that spark back again you need to take a few steps backwards and come back a bigger and better player and hopefully that's what I did."
Prop Shannon Boyd, who also lost his starting spot after the Raiders' poor start, being demoted to the bench to make way for Junior Paulo, said the moves had been done to benefit the team in the long run.
"I had a bit of an off-week against Manly and Stick wanted to give me a bit of a wake-up call," said Boyd. "It is not as a good as starting but you've got to do what you've got to do."
After losing their first four games of the season - although the first three were all by fewer than three points - the Raiders have improved their defence and have posted consecutive 16-point wins over the Bulldogs and Parramatta.
Canberra are 7/5 to win their next game against the Rabbitohs, who are 3/5. The Raiders are 93/100 with a four-point start.
View all Rugby League betting