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Long-serving front rower Sam Rapira has today announced that the 2015 season will be his last with the Vodafone Warriors.

The Hamilton-born Rapira told his team-mates and football staff this morning he had decided to continue his playing career in the English Super League.

Now in his 10th NRL season, Rapira has amassed the most appearances by a front rower in the club’s history, played in the 2011 NRL grand final and was in the Kiwis’ Rugby League World Cup-winning side in 2008.

“It was tough to tell the boys but I know it’s time for me to move on,” he said.

“The Vodafone Warriors club has been a massive part of my life. I am very grateful to my family and all my supporters.

“It was a hard decision but I’m pleased to have the next stage of my career sorted.”

Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden lauded Rapira’s contribution on all levels.

“Sam is a terrific person and a fantastic team man who encompasses all the values we seek in our players,” he said.

“He stands out as one of our leaders, a steadying influence and a rock-solid performer who never gives less than everything he has when he plays for the club.

“It’s a tough day for everyone here and especially his team-mates. We all want this last year to be the best it can be for Sam. He certainly deserves it after the effort he has put in.”

While he is yet to make his first NRL appearance this season due to a hamstring injury, Rapira is set to become only the seventh Vodafone Warrior to play in 10 NRL seasons for the club.

Since making the first of his 169 NRL appearances against Wests Tigers in May 2006, Rapira has established himself as one of the game’s most respected front rowers.

While the World Cup win and playing in the 2011 grand final rank among the best moments in his career, playing in the NRL alongside younger brother Steve was also a special highlight; it happened twice against Parramatta and the Sydney Roosters in 2013.

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