You don’t have to talk to Monty Raper for long to work out that Rugby League is in his blood.
“He’s my Pop’s brother, Johnny [Raper],” the Cronulla Sharks SG Ball lock tells NSWRL.com.au. “Then on the other side, Grandpa was Monty Porter – he was the first captain of Cronulla.”
With a name inherited from Rugby League royalty, Raper was born to play the Greatest Game Of All – and in his time in the Sharks’ junior representative system, he’s made the most of his opportunity. A Harold Matthews title in 2015 showed that he was more than just a famous name – an expectation which Raper has learned to deal with.
“It’s pretty big shoes to fill when you go out there with those two names but it’s all right, I enjoy it,” Raper says, adding the inspiration of his late grandfather Porter. “I think he’d be pretty proud, so that’s good.”
Raper featured heavily in the Sharks’ dominant victory over the Sydney Roosters on Saturday, kicking off the NSWRL under-18s boys competition in perfect fashion. The visitors ran out to a 28-6 half-time scoreline at Henson Park and never looked troubled by the Roosters, which was pleasing to the no.13.
“The boys always knew we were probably the better side if we stuck to our game plan, so it was good to get the first points on the board,” Raper says. “It was hot out there, but we knew we had it in the tank and if we went hard we’d get the result.
“I went all right, I’ve got stuff to improve on but it’s a good building block. I can get better every week hopefully.”
A lot has changed, of course, since the eras of Raper’s famous Rugby League relatives; while the ‘run hard, tackle hard’ philosophy will always ring true, the 17-year-old was a part of an historic first in the hit-out at Henson. The Sharks became the first club to field teams across three back-to-back junior representative fixtures on Saturday, which was kicked off by the first-ever game of the Tarsha Gale Cup.
“It’s really good to be able to see the girls, they’ve always been good at Oz-Tag and now they’re getting involved in the game of Rugby League – it’s great,” Raper explains. “I knew a couple of the girls out there and obviously they [the Sharks] got the win as well.
“They’d give us a run for our money.”
With generations of backing, Monty Raper is well on his way to achieve great things in Rugby League – and judging by the Sharks’ performance to start the season, could again feature heavily in the junior representative finals series later this year.