Raiders coach Ricky Stuart stated a couple of weeks ago that Josh Papalii would go down as one of the club’s greatest players.
In the minds of many, the three-time Meninga Medallist for the Raiders Player of the Year is already in that category. He is possibly second only in his position to the great Glenn Lazarus, but ahead of the likes of John Lomax, Brent Todd and Ruben Wiki.
Papalii now has an opportunity to solidify his status after signing an extension to 2024 with an option for 2025.
He was already contracted until the end of the 2022 season so the new contract extends his stay by another two years, possibly three.
“This is my home now and my family and I are very happy to be remaining with the Raiders and in Canberra,” Papalii said on signing the contract extension.
The exact worth of contracts is rarely made public but the deal he signed in 2018 was worth a reported $660,000 a season. It’s important to note that he was in indifferent form at the start of 2018 and was dropped following the World Cup campaign.
That year though, he rediscovered his form and went on to win the Raiders Player of the Year award.
This year, as the number one prop in the game, he is in a far better bargaining position and, as such, could demand upwards of $800,000 a season.
If he went on the open market he would earn considerably more, especially when considered against the likes of David Fifita who will earn a reported $1.2 million a season at the Gold Coast Titans.
With a contract until 2025, if all goes well, he will be 32 to 33 years of age at the end of this contract period. Cameron Smith is 37 years of age and may continue playing beyond this season, so a playing career into his early 30s is looking very promising for Papalii and the Raiders.
In announcing his new deal, Papalii spoke about his time at the club thus far: “I came here as a junior player, made my debut here, and played my 200th NRL game here. There’s no other club that I want to play for.”
When he arrived at the Raiders as a teenager under a sign-on deal worth $30,000 he confessed that he hadn’t even heard of Canberra before.
At that time, media conferences were a trial for him, and the media.
Since Papalii made his NRL debut in 2011, he has played 215 games, 15 Origins and 11 tests for the Kangaroos.
On current form, he would be the first picked for Queensland and Australia.
In signing the new deal he joins Jarrod Croker and Jack Wighton who are all locked in until 2024 with the Raiders.