Long road back for veteran Jerome Ropati
Warriors veteran Jerome Ropati was back playing for the Auckland Vulcans yesterday in their 17-16 loss to the Illawarra Cutters in the NSW Cup, but when will he play for the Warriors again?
Ropati has played just twice in the NRL this season, in rounds seven and eight, against the Storm and Titans respectively.
Aside from that, he has either been battling with injuries or playing for the reserve grade Vulcans.
Serious knee injuries affected the previous two campaigns and this one hasn't been much better.
For someone who's given so much to the club over his 140 appearances, it's been a disappointing 2013 for him and with games running out, plus Dane Nielsen and Konrad Hurrell playing so well in the centres, he may not play for the Warriors again this season.
"What's happened with an injury as serious as his is that his knee is fine now, but his body is re-adapting and the camber of his run and everything has changed," said Warriors coach Matt Elliott.
"He has had hamstring, quad and groin injuries. We are obviously pretty keen to have him available again, we're getting a bit light on outside backs.
"We raced him back as soon as we thought he was fit earlier in the season when we played the Storm, because not only do I admire the way Jerome plays, but I also like the influence he has on his team-mates, he is calming and he's one of those players that when you talk as a coach he understands what you're talking about."
Ropati has made a huge contribution at the Vulcans, with the young players in the team learning plenty off him. Elliott doesn't know if Ropati will be back for the Warriors this year.
"He is certainly committed to making that happen," he said.
"The frustrating thing with injuries sometimes is that they dictate the speed, not you. Hopefully we see him before the end of the season."
As for yesterday's Vulcans' game, Ropati scored a try late to help square the match at 16-16, but a Josh Drinkwater field goal right at the death snatched the win for the home side.