From Stuff again. Nice to see the old hands keeping the rookies in a positive frame of mind.
03 February 2006
By GIFFORD LEE
New teenage Warrior Sam Rapira won't be going down the rocky rookie road and says his family and senior teammates have shown him the path best travelled as he prepares to embark in the big league.
The former Waicoa-Bay Stallions prop/second-rower and now one of 25 fully contracted Warriors has taken time out from pre-season training to attend the NRL's rookie camp in Sydney that aims to prepare promising young players for life as a league star.
Current and former players who succumbed to controversy and women's welfare agencies spoke at the camp that received bad press last year after Newcastle rookie Dane Tilse was involved in an alcohol-related incident with a woman just a week after the 2005 conference.
Acts like Tilse's have often pushed rugby league from the back to the front pages but Rapira, 18, who has been with his girlfriend for the past 15 months, is focused on making headlines for all the right reasons.
"It made me think definitely. How to prepare yourself properly on and off the field and to start goal setting for where I want to be after my career," Rapira said. "I know where I want to be and that's starting games week-in-week-out. Nothing else matters to me at the moment."
After being plucked from age-group regional sides to the Stallions in the Bartercard Cup to captaining his country at Junior Kiwi level, Rapira has all the physical attributes to be a force with the Warriors.
The bright lights of Auckland and Sydney are a far cry from his Hamilton upbringing and his healthy pay-packet can allow him a life other 18-year-olds can only dream of. But Rapira is aware that in an instant that could all be taken away from him.
"My family have always brought me up well and taught me to be focused. The senior guys like Steve (Price), Ruben (Wiki) and (Clinton) Toopi are positive in everything they say."
Rapira weighs in at a sculpted 106kg and said he had dropped skin folds and picked up weight in muscle mass.
"I've never trained like this before but I feel in the best shape of my life. (Kevin) Campion worked us hard in the pre-season but now it's all worth it."
With three pre-season games against the Raiders, Cowboys and Bulldogs looming this month, Rapira was hoping to get his chance to impress coach Ivan Cleary in a Warriors jersey before the season proper begins on March 12.
Rapira's brother Steve, 17, is about to begin his second season in the Bartercard Cup and is tipped to join him at the Warriors in the future.