The Canberra Raiders will look to begin contract discussions with Jordan Rapana when he starts rehabilitation on his reconstructed shoulder.
The club lodged an application for salary cap relief for the New Zealand international with the NRL on Monday, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Rapana dislocated his shoulder twice when playing for the Kiwis in the second Test against England at Anfield earlier this month after also hurting it a week earlier in their opening Test.
Canberra have raised questions over the New Zealand medical staff’s handling of key injuries with the winger expected to be out of action until round 11-14 of the 2019 season.
The 29-year-old will come off contract at the end of the 2019 season, and with the current NRL rules, he is free to begin negotiations and sign with a rival club for 2020 and beyond.
Rapana has played 97 NRL games, which includes five with the Gold Coast Titans, which has seen him cross the try line 67 times.
The Raiders have announced the re-signing of young prop Emre Guler to the club until 2021 as well as adding former West Tiger JJ Felise on a two-year deal.
Currently off contract they have halfback Sam Williams, forward Luke Bateman and young prop Liam Knight- who’s already been linked to Sydney clubs- but their main priority is to re-sign Rapana.
Raiders chief executive Don Furner said to the media on Monday they’re hoping to lock down the winger sooner rather than later.
“We’ll sit down with him once he gets back into rehab. He’s certainly one that we want to lock away,” Furner said.
“We’ve still plenty of time, but he wants to stay and we want him to stay. We’ll get cracking on that.”
Furner states the injury report for Rapana didn’t look good and is hoping to get an immediate response regarding the salary cap relief.
While always looking for prospective players, the club quickly want to know exactly how much they can spend on a replacement player.
Under a new rule labeled the “Josh Hodgson rule”, Canberra can be provided with relief if Rapana misses at least 12 games since injuring his shoulder, which looks more likely than unlikely.
A maximum of $350,000 can be provided as relief money, which is based on a $1 million player missing those 12 games.
If approved, Rapana will have to remain on the sidelines until Round 13 even if he is fully fit and ready to go.
Furner said the club is hoping for the best after sending away the request on Monday.
“Hopefully they give us an answer one way or another sooner rather than later because we don’t want to be hanging on not knowing,” Furner said.
“I’ve asked them if they can let me know as soon as they can so that if a player does become available we are in a position to have a crack rather than not know.
“We haven’t got anyone in mind, but it’s good to know and we might not use it, who knows. A speedy answer would be good.
“Just going off the medical reports and it wasn’t pretty reading.”