While discussions continue, Warriors veteran utility slides into crucial fullback position against Brisbane.
Jerome Ropati is in discussions with the Warriors about a new contract but the length of that deal won't be determined until he's over his injury concerns.
The utility is into his 10th season with the club but it has already been a disjointed one. He has made six appearances this year, but went off injured against Manly (ankle) and the Roosters (hamstring), and they followed the serious knee injury that restricted him to three games last year and shoulder infection that ended his 2010.
Ropati this week will slot in at fullback to cover for the injured Kevin Locke and Glen Fisiiahi and out-of-sorts Krisnan Inu, but has spent too much time off the field in the past 18 months for the club to make any hasty decisions.
"Discussions with someone like Jerome would normally be a bit earlier but he has been hindered by injury," Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah said. "Jerome has been with the club for 10 years so he's a key member and we have had some early discussions."
Ropati has seen plenty of players come and go from Mt Smart Stadium and knows sentiment will get only so far.
"Whether they want me on a short-term or long-term agreement, that's hard to tell," he said. "I'm glad we are talking.
"I love it here. It's my home town, my family and friends are here and we haven't won the premiership, which is something I want to achieve. Family is another consideration because I am coming to the end of my career."
Ropati is 27 but has played only 136 NRL games, meaning he has missed on average 10 games a season with injury. While he is a classy operator, there is greater competition at centre with youngsters like Ben Henry and Konrad Hurrell coming through.
But one of Ropati's greatest strengths is his utility value and he has played at centre, fullback, five-eighths, lock and wing for the Warriors.
"I have always understood that this is going to be my role if we hit a few injuries," Ropati said. "I don't mind that Bluey [coach Brian McClennan] comes up and says we have no one else to play fullback but you. I understand that we need to win this week and I will do whatever I can in whatever position."
Ropati has played nine times at fullback for the Warriors and also started there for the Kiwis in the 2005 Anzac test. His experience is one of the reasons McClennan has plumped for him in the crucial position against Brisbane at Mt Smart Stadium tomorrow.
"I'm getting comfortable with [playing fullback]," Ropati said. "The more times I find myself back there, the more I have to learn how to fit in and play my role.
"That's the mindset I will have this weekend, I have to make [fullback] my position. It's one of two positions I will play this year."
It's up to Ropati's body where he plays next year.