Take two for Mt Smart regulars

Last updated 14:14 29/03/2011
GONE: Jerome Ropati's season-ending knee injury is similar to that of Brent Tate back in 2009

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So Jerome Ropati, a consistent performer of the past 12 months for the Warriors, is now done for 2011 after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament.

OPINION: And with no disrespect to Melbourne's Chase Stanley and Sydney City's Anthony Cherrington, JoRo is the first top level player to suffer a season ending injury.

Talk about déjà vu for the residents of Mt Smart.

Back track to 2009 and a similar occurrence happened to another of the club's star centres.

In round three against the Brisbane Broncos, Brent Tate went down with the same injury and was lost for the rest of the year.

The end result? A bad season by the Warriors which saw the pre-season favourite finish 14th.

Ropati may not be the most important player to this club, that would be Manu Vatuvei, but he is Manu's right-hand man and was the key veteran back after Tate left for the Cowboys.

But unlike 2009 all may not be lost. Because while the Warriors lack aggressive front rowers, an in form fullback, a decent veteran halfback and it seems an actual game plan; the side does have good second rowers.

Lots of quality second rowers.

And second rowers can help fill centre positions with ease. Parramatta's Ben Smith, St George's Beau Scott and Warriors captain Simon Mannering come to mind when you think of back rowers who started their NRL career in the backline.

If we follow Cleary's conservative style it is more then likely he will name Joel Moon as a starter against Cronulla despite being pulled early against the Dragons on Sunday.

The other spot will go to second-rower Lewis Brown or Vulcans lock Elijah Taylor. But if Ivan decides to be a bit risqué he could go with a Brown/Taylor combo or even chuck big Sione Lousi in the number four jumper.

And if Cleary feels more adventurous he could drop a woeful Brett Seymour and move Feleti Mateo to stand off who looks bewildered to be running alongside Mannering and Luck.

If Brown and Mateo were to depart their positional fight the club would still have the likes of Lousi, Ukuma Ta'ai and Steve Rapira at their disposal.

This would leave Mr Cleary needing to only worry about a lack of aggressive front rowers, an in-form fullback and an actual game plan.


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