Steve Rapira to re-join Warriors next season
Forward Steve Rapira provided the New Zealand Warriors with a welcome boost with confirmation he will rejoin the Auckland-based club from North Queensland at the end of the National Rugby League (NRL) season.
The 21-year-old younger brother of Warriors and Kiwis prop Sam Rapira has been signed on a two-year contract with an option for the 2013 season.
After playing for the Junior Warriors in their debut season in the NRL youth competition in 2008, Steve Rapira left the club for a two-year deal with the Cowboys but said he was looking forward to coming home.
"I've been able to break into the NRL with the Cowboys and I've learnt a lot from my time here but, for me, it's time to come home," he said in a statement.
"The club I always wanted to play for right from the start was the Warriors and that's still the same. It's where I want to be.
"It'll be good to be back around family and friends and to have the chance to play alongside Sam again.
"But I owe the Cowboys a lot for the opportunity they've given me and my focus is on doing the best I can for them for the rest of this season."
Warriors coach Ivan Cleary said Rapira's signing was a real coup for the club.
"It's great to know Steve is coming back home," he said.
"He came up through our development programme and then with the Junior Warriors. We've always liked what he has to offer. He's an aggressive defender and provides real value with the ball as well. We couldn't be happier knowing he'll be back with us next season."
Rapira made his NRL debut for the Cowboys against Gold Coast in April last year, going on to make 16 appearances in all and winning the club's rookie of the year award.
He has played in each of North Queensland's matches this season, the latest against Melbourne at Dairy Farmers Stadium last night.
Hamilton-born and bred Rapira played 10 times for the Junior Warriors in 2008.