Stu­art was right to drop me, says Pa­palii

Nelson Mail - - SPORT -

Josh Pa­palii con­cedes coach Ricky Stu­art made the right de­ci­sion to drop back him to re­serve grade as Can­berra try to turn their sea­son around.

Pa­palii and play­maker Blake Austin were the men made to pay for the Raiders’ worst start to a sea­son in 21 years, dropped back this month to play for Moun­ties in the NSW Cup.

Both are back in the Raiders’ first-grade side af­ter re­spec­tive one-week ab­sences, Austin cour­tesy of an in­jury to Sam Williams and Pa­palii fol­low­ing a re­call against Par­ra­matta last week.

But de­spite be­ing a Queensland State of Ori­gin rep­re­sen­ta­tive or the past five years, Pa­palii con­ceded his poor start to the year war­ranted a de­mo­tion.

‘‘I prob­a­bly agreed with Ricky on the call to drop me back,’’ Pa­palii said. ‘‘I just copped it on the chin like most play­ers would. Sticky said I wasn’t in form and dropped me back for one week. It didn’t hurt.

‘‘I’ve been in these shoes be­fore. I got dropped back to Souths Lo­gan back in the day. Some­times to try and get that spark you need to take a few steps back­wards and come back a bet­ter player.’’

Pa­palii played in the mid­dle in his out­ing on for Moun­ties and also fig­ured there off the bench for the Raiders last week­end.

Whether he re­turns to the edge is un­clear but Stu­art ap­pears un­likely to make changes af­ter the Raiders won their past two games to climb back to 13th on the lad­der.

Josh Pa­palii

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