Ropati, Henry into Warriors to face Dragons

Last updated 16:43 11/03/2014
Jerome Ropati
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CENTRE OF ATTENTION: Jerome Ropati will partner Dane Nielsen in the centres in the Warriors line-up to face the St George-Illawarra Dragons at Eden Park on Saturday night.

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Experienced centre Jerome Ropati and utility Ben Henry have been brought into the Warriors team for the first home game of the season as they seek to make amends for a disastrous season opener.

Ropati will line up in the centres while Henry comes onto the bench for the game against the St George Illawarra Dragons at Eden Park at 5pm on Saturday.

Ropati, 29, now in his 12th NRL season and edging towards his 150th NRL appearance, returns from injury and will be stationed on a right wing that was at times left lacking in the Warriors 36-16 loss to the Paramatta Eels on Sunday.

Henry spent much of the 2013 season sidelined with injury. He made a successful return from knee surgery last week, being used at standoff and scoring a try for the Warriors reserve grade side in their New South Wales Cup games against Wentworthville.

Head coach Matt Elliott said Ropati had been "pushing hard in the trials and at training to get himself ready for a return to the NRL".

"He'll stiffen up our right edge with his experience."

Elliott said he rated Henry highly and he expected him to be a big part of the team in the future.

He said both coaching staff and players were determined to produce a vastly improved display against the Dragons.

"Our performance against Parramatta wasn't what any of us saw coming," he said.

"There was one team out there competing a lot harder physically than we did and that was the most disappointing aspect."

The Dragons are another difficult assignment for the Warriors as they come off the back of a 44-24 victory over the Tigers yesterday.

The Warriors have only ever won four times against the Dragons in 20 match-ups. The last time the Warriors won was in 2007 with the Dragons winning eight straight since then.

NZ WARRIORS:
Sam Tomkins, Glen Fisiiahi, Dane Nielsen, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei, Chad Townsend, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Jayson Bukuya, Simon Mannering (c), John Palavi. Interchange: Jacob Lillyman, Suaia Matagi, Ben Henry, Feleti Mateo, Sione Lousi

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- Fairfax Media

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