Canberra Raiders’ Joseph Tapine never did any weight training until an encouraging talk by Ricky Stuart


One of the game’s most powerful strikers, who scored a scintillating solo attempt last week that knocked defenders Boyd Cordner, Luke Keary and Josh Morris off Roosters and left Brad Fittler almost speechless in comment, barely cared about the gym.

“One, two, miss a few,” Papalii joked about his Raiders teammate’s previous work ethic at the gym. “He’d just go in there, talk, and then you wouldn’t see him afterwards.”

He would just go in, talk, and then no one would see him again.

Josh Papalii

In his seventh year in the NRL and after his team had almost no strikers in their closet, Tapine finally gave it a try. It wasn’t like he had no strength, he just didn’t do weights because he had no talent in the gym, didn’t feel like it, and had a combination of injuries.

“I know it sounds weird to a professional athlete, but I’ve always been terrible in the gym so I avoided it,” said Tapine. “Small halfbacks can bet more than I can on the bench. It’s embarrassing.

“When I was younger, I just tried to run. I was a lot thinner and smaller. My brother [Callan] loved weights and i hated it. I was just using my natural strength.

“The performance staff came up to me and said, ‘Buddy, we need to get you to the gym more’. I actually started to love it. I still can’t put more than the halfbacks on the bench, but I get in there and get in my job done. ”

Joseph Tapine pushes Luke Keary aside on the way to the trial line.Recognition:Getty

The 26-year-old New Zealand international has been one of the best in Canberra in recent years, but no one could have predicted his rapid development this season.

During his 100th NRL game for the club last week, he scored a memorable final attempt that helped push Canberra forward within 80 minutes of yet another grand final.

The Raiders strength and conditioning team worked overtime on a program that suited Tapine’s physique and characteristics – now they can actually keep him in the gym.

“He’s very, very strong,” said Papalii. “Kyle O’Donnell will do weights every day and then he wrestled with Taps and Taps just turned him over. He’s just a natural.

Raiders striker Joseph Tapine trains in the gym.

“I still can’t get over his weekend attempt, the footwork, the speed… it’s good to have. You’d never see Taps doing extras when training his footwork, he just plays what’s in front of him. I think Taps is one of those who finally found how good he can be. ”

Tapine appears as one of Stuart’s wildcards in the big qualifier against Craig Bellamys Storm, well rested for the showdown at Suncorp Stadium.

No player wants more than Tapine, who is still cursing the Roosters’ opening attempt against Sam Verrills in last year’s controversial playoff.


“It’s burning,” said Tapine. “Little number 9 slipped and I didn’t come back in time and slipped, it still haunts me. It just pops in my head. You know how to lie in bed and get random thoughts, this attempt just comes to me.

“But I can feel [the weight regime] Benefit for me in the field. I prepare better every week and there is a little routine that I have on my mind. ”


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