Rapira family's link with Stallions keeps going

Last updated 05:00 01/09/2012

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The name Rapira continues to live on in the ranks of the WaiCoa Bays Stallions rugby league team, with Tane, the cousin of Warriors NRL players Sam and Steve, out to make an impact in the national competition.

The 20-year-old's father is the younger brother of Sam and Steve's father.

Both the fathers have also played rugby league and the five men are the only sons in their families.

Along with his cousins, Tane also grew up in Hamilton. The prop turned out for the Stallions in the opening round last weekend and tomorrow he is set to take the field against the South Island Scorpions in Huntly.

After originally taking up rugby as a youngster, it didn't take him long to find his way to the 13-man code.

"Originally I didn't really have much to do with league, I just used to go and watch them [Sam and Steve] play. I've watched them play Stallions and I watched their Hukanui games, their Junior Kiwi games," Rapira said.

"My dad had finished playing by the time I was old enough to understand the game."

Instead of following in the footsteps and playing at the Hukanui club, Rapira went to College Old Boys as he said Hukanui at the time weren't very strong and weren't very organised with their age-group sides.

Going through Hamilton Boys' High School, before moving to Fraser, Rapira then moved to Australia for school and rugby league, last year making the Manly Sea Eagles team in the Toyota Cup under-20s competition.

Having moved back this year for a variety of reasons, he now lives in Auckland and played his club football for Howick in the Fox Memorial Shield competition.

But despite playing there because it's a stronger competition than the Waikato one, Rapira was adamant he wanted to represent the Stallions.

Howick weren't going to make the semifinals, so he transferred to the Hamilton City Tigers - however Rapira won't actually play for them as he'll transfer back and play in Auckland again next season.

Although Rapira has played in pretty much every position since he began in the sport, he wouldn't be a true Rapira if he wasn't in the forwards, right?

"When I first started I was playing fullback. I put on a bit of weight," he said.

"I don't mind doing all the hard stuff, but my game's probably more of a ball-playing front-rower.

"Stevie got blessed with the big tackles, Sam got blessed with the big runs, I think I just got the ball skills."

In terms of the memories of the backyard clashes involving his powerful cousins, Rapira had a simple recollection: "I got knocked around a few times."

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But Sam and Steve are his idols and he has massive regard for them.

"Not just in and around rugby league, just the type of people they are. I've always looked up to them and they've always been my role models," Rapira said.

For the youngest of the three Rapiras though, making a living out of the game might be out of sight.

"It's always been a dream to, but realistically, I've got other things that I need to consider as well.

"I've got a partner and stuff like that," said Rapira, who is currently doing traffic control work after his plastering work dried up.

"You can't keep chasing the dream, you've got to start making money."

What: National competition, Rd 2 Who: WaiCoa Bays Stallions v South Island Scorpions Where: Davies Park, Huntly When: Tomorrow, 2.30pm Stallions: Marrin Haggie, Jordan Tai Rakena, Leigh Bristowe, Mounga Molisi, Ryan Gordon, Joshua Weeden, Hayden Karena, Tane Rapira, Pirikawana Taiatini, Peter-George Rata, Dana Ratu, Fa'a Leilua, Simon Beale. Interchange: Peter Rameka, Sam Pritchard, Norman Solofa, Jason Watkins.

- Waikato

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