The Canberra Raiders have confirmed a double re-signing, with outside backs Jordan Rapana and Albert Hopoate putting pen to paper on new deals.
The club confirmed the news on Wednesday morning, with veteran Rapana signing a one-year extension to remain with the club until at least the end of the 2024 campaign, while Hopoate has added two years to his time in the nation's capital through to the end of 2025.
Both players have been a constant part of Ricky Stuart's 17 for the green machine in 2023, with Rapana scoring five tries in six games to go with 115 metres per game, while Hopoate has scored three tries in eight appearances, but has been a weapon with the football in hand, running 157 metres per game.
Canberra have plenty of options in the outside backs, with Jarrod Croker pushing his way back into first-grade, and Xavier Savage returning from injury in recent times. It's left Rapana, Hopoate, Croker, Savage, Sebastian Kris, Matthew Timoko, Nick Cotric and Harley Smith-Shields fighting for the five spots from one through five in the line-up, and Ricky Stuart with a weekly selection headache.
Despite that, both Rapana and Hopoate have cemented their positions in the side.
Hopoate, who formerly was at the Sea Eagles, has played 15 games since joining the Raiders last year, putting aside previous injury worries which de-railed the start of his career, having previously been touted as one of the best young prospects in the game.
“It was a no brainer for me (to re-sign) and it was great to get Joel (Carbone) and my manager together and make it happen and I feel very blessed,” Hopoate said in a club statement.
“It's been a really good development stage for me over the past couple of years and I've great role models here like Jordan Rapana and Nick Cotric who have played over 100 games, and I'll look to keep learning from them.
“I'm just looking to keep playing well and try and secure a spot and play as many NRL games as I can and keep learning.”
Rapana, who is at the other end of his career, will go down as an all-time great at the Raiders, playing all but five of his 186 games for the club - he will go past 100 NRL tries with his next trip across the line, and an extension to his deal all but ensures he will cross the 200-game barrier.
“I've surprised myself with how my bodies been holding up and I've decided to go again for another year. I want to thank the club and Stick (Ricky Stuart) for giving me another opportunity,” Rapana said.
“At my age form plays a big part of re-signing and I want to keep playing well. We've still got a long season ahead of us and we're hitting some form and I'm looking forward to finishing this season strong and then carrying that into next year.”