Role model Ropati is perfect fit for NRL job

MOVING: Jerome Ropati is ready for his next chapter after injuries brought a premature end to his playing career.
MOVING: Jerome Ropati is ready for his next chapter after injuries brought a premature end to his playing career.

Nigel Vagana wants to offer Jerome Ropati a role with the NRL when he finishes up with the Warriors at the end of the season.

Ropati has hung his boots up because his body can no longer take the physical battering it's had to endure for the past 11 years.

He'll continue working with the club for the rest of the season with community, welfare and football activities but will then look for employment elsewhere.

Vagana, who works for the NRL as their welfare and education manager, would like to get Ropati on board.

"Jerome is one of those people who should never be lost to the game," Vagana told Sunday News.

"A lot of people have seen what he's done on and off the field and the way he's carried himself.

"He's someone we've been working with for a while in the welfare and education space, through leadership camps.

"With him finishing up at the end of the season, he's someone that we've got opportunities for and someone we'd be excited about having on board."

Ropati played 145 games for the Warriors but only 18 over the last three seasons as he's suffered from numerous injuries.

Although he wasn't able to have as big an impact for the Warriors on the field in recent years, he was still an outstanding role model and someone who was an inspiration for younger players.

"He's been a great ambassador for the game and it's a shame injuries have been prevalent throughout his career," Vagana said.

"But the combination that him and Manu Vatuvei had on the edge for the Warriors proved to be one of the toughest going around at the time.

"He was able to be a great ambassador for the game, the club and our people too."

Despite what he's been through, 29 is a young age to retire. Some professional sportsmen struggle to cope with life after this, but Ropati says he's ready to move on.

"I've always had a bigger perspective on life and known that I'm a lot more than a football player," Ropati said.

"I've had that approach due to my faith, being a Christian.

"I've enjoyed every moment of it and I cherish it, but I'm ready to move on. I'm not going to go into the next chapter holding onto anything from the past and having regrets."

When Vagana gets in contact with Ropati, he's likely to find his former Kiwis team-mate receptive to getting involved with the NRL, to offer guidance and support to young players trying to make it in the game.

"Working with players and people, that's what I'd like to do," Ropati said.

"Obviously, I've got a lot of knowledge in the game, not just a lot of footy knowledge, but on how to be as a person and order your life around and I'd like to share that with people."

Ropati is the type of person political parties would love to have on board, but he says his future doesn't lie in that direction.

"No way. Politics is not for me, I'm not that type of guy," he said.

"I think I can still do that on a community level, in a small environment that I think will effect people.

"Politics is on a much more grander scale and the motives behind politicians isn't what I'd like to have."


JEROME ROPATI Born: Auckland, November 23, 1984 Junior Club: Marist Saints Position: Centre/Fullback/Standoff Height: 1.76m Weight: 97kg Rep Honours: 11 Tests for Kiwis 2005-2009, World Cup 2008, Tri Nations 2006, All Golds 2008 NRL Debut: Warriors v Sydney Roosters, Sydney, August 31, 2003 Club Number: 108 NRL career: 145 appearances, 2003-2014 NRL points: 216 (54 tries)

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