Centre Jerome Ropati will end 10 months of frustration when
he plays in the New Zealand Warriors' trial match against the
Brisbane Broncos in Dunedin on Saturday.
Ropati has been sidelined since his 2012 campaign was ended
by a knee injury in the club's 10th-round match against the
Sydney Roosters in Auckland last May.
The 11-season veteran is on the interchange bench for the
club's final trial match ahead of their competition opener
against Parramatta in Sydney on March 9.
Coach Matthew Elliott said he admired 28-year-old Ropati's
persistence in getting himself ready, having suffered a spate
of serious injuries in recent seasons.
"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," Elliott said.
Former Melbourne Storm lock Todd Lowrie will make his club
debut a week later than scheduled.
He missed the trial loss to Penrith at Hamilton on Saturday
when he returned home after his grandfather died.
Also returning are brothers Sam and Steve Rapira who were
ruled out of the Hamilton match with niggles after originally
Lowrie's inclusion is the only starting change to the side
that played the Panthers. Feleti Mateo shifts to the second
row alongside captain Simon Mannering.
Elliott will be hoping his squad emerge injury-free from the
match following a spate of issues early in 2013.
Second-rower Sam Lousi suffered a foot stress fracture in the
Hamilton game and is ruled out for up to two months. Earlier
this month his older brother Sione Lousi was ruled out for
the season with a knee injury.
Hooker Nathan Friend won't play until April while he recovers
from a shoulder operation, while prop Russell Packer will
miss the first month after bicep surgery.
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 (capt), Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Glen Fisiiahi,
Charlie Gubb, Sam Rapira, Carlos Tuimavave, Alehana Mara,
Jerome Ropati, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Steve Rapira