Josh Papalii sparked back to form after demotion to second grade

Lachlan Roberts 19 April 2018

The fan favourite said it “didn’t hurt” to find form in the lower grades. Photo: Supplied by Canberra Raiders.

Raiders backrower Josh Papalii said that his axing to second grade gave him the spark he needed to get back to his best form ahead of the clash with South Sydney this Saturday.

Papalii and five-eighth Blake Austin were made to pay for their poor form and for the Raiders’ terrible start to the season by being demoted to reserve grade in the NSW Cup.

Despite being a Queensland State of Origin representative for the past five years, Papalii said his poor form deserved him to be dropped down.

“I was pretty good with it, I probably agreed with Sticky on the call dropping me back,” Papalii said on Monday.

“I just copped it on the chin like most players would. Sticky said I wasn’t in form and dropping back for one week didn’t hurt.”

The 25-year-old played in the middle for the Mounties side and made huge metres in the reserve grade team’s loss.

The 13-test veteran said he was happy to “take a few steps back” to rediscover his best form.

“I obviously went back and for Mounties we didn’t get a good win, but I got used to playing in the middle and that’s where I came on on the weekend [for the Raiders] as well,” he said.

“Hopefully I’ve found a bit of spark in my career, coming off the bench wasn’t too bad so hopefully I’m named in the week coming up against Souths.”

It is not the first time that Papalii has dropped to reserve grade, having played for South Logans back in the day.

The fan favourite said it “didn’t hurt” to find form in the lower grades after he played a starring role in the Raiders win over the Eels at the rain-soaked GIO Stadium on Saturday night.

“Sometimes to try and get that spark you need to take a few steps backwards and come back a better player, and I think that’s what I’ve done,” Papalii said.

“I think [the focus is] trying to keep the boys hungry again and keep them focused for one more week and to play our kind of footy and stop worrying about other teams.”

“Obviously it has worked for the last two weeks and hopefully we carry it on for the rest of the year.”

South Sydney Rabbitohs vs Canberra Raiders at Central Coast Stadium, Saturday 3 pm. Live on Fox League.

Raiders squad: 1. Jack Wighton, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Sia Soliola, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Junior Paulo, 11. Joe Tapine, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Luke Bateman. Interchange: 14. Ata Hingano, 15. Shannon Boyd, 16. Josh Papalii, 17. Dunamis Lui, 18. Liam Knight, 19. Michael Oldfield, 20. Brad Abbey, 21. Jack Murchie

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