Jerome Ropati to make long-awaited return

DAVID LONG
Last updated 09:50 20/02/2013
Jerome Ropati
JASON OXENHAM/Fairfax NZ
BACK IN ACTION: Jerome Ropati has been out of action since picking up a knee injury in the round 10 game against thet Sydney Roosters last May.

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Warriors coach Matt Elliott has been able to call in two of his heavyweights for Saturday night's trial game against Brisbane Broncos in Dunedin.

Jerome Ropati has been named to play his first game in 10 months, while Todd Lowrie will make his debut for the Warriors, having moved from the Melbourne Storm over the off season.

Ropati has been out of action since picking up a knee injury in the round 10 game against thet Sydney Roosters last May, but will make his return from the bench in the Warriors' final trial before the season starts on March 9 with an away game against Parramatta Eels.

Lowrie missed last weekend's loss to Penrith Panthers in a trial game in Hamilton, returning home after his grandfather passed away.

Also returning are Sam and Steve Rapira who were ruled out of the Hamilton hit-out after originally being named, it will be Sam's first game of the pre-season, while Steve got to captain the side against Gold Coast in their first trial.

Warriors head coach Matthew Elliott said he is especially pleased to be able to name Ropati for the first time.

"It has been another long battle back from injury for Jerome and we've all admired the way he has gone about it," Elliott said.

"He knows better than anyone else what it's like when you go through setbacks of the type he has endured. He's a quality player and person, one who's so important to our club and our team.

"We're all looking forward to having him back. He has done the work and there's no doubt he deserves a change of luck."

With 2012 premiership winner Lowrie in the side, Feleti Mateo is named in the second row with captain Simon Mannering. Lowrie's inclusion is the only change to the starting combination Elliott used against the Panthers.

The crowd in Dunedin could be as big as 20,000 and it will be a unique experience for the Warriors to play in the deep south.

"We're absolutely thrilled about the chance to head south to Dunedin," said Elliott.

"Taking the Warriors to other areas in the country is hugely beneficial for all concerned and we couldn't be happier about spending time in Dunedin.

"We're certainly hoping people from all parts of the South Island will come along to be part of what will be a special night for rugby league."


Warriors:
Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Elijah Taylor, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (C), Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Glen Fisiiahi, Charlie Gubb, Sam Rapira, Carlos Tuimavave, Alehana Mara, 
Jerome Ropati, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Steve Rapira.

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