NRL: Rapira may get chance to tackle Sharks

By Steve Deane

Warriors prop Sam Rapira's knee problems have settled down at last. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Warriors prop Sam Rapira's knee problems have settled down at last. Photo / Brett Phibbs

He hasn't been named in the squad but senior prop Sam Rapira could make his much-awaited Warriors return against the Sharks on Saturday night.

Rapira, who hasn't played since dislocating a kneecap in the round 11 victory over the Rabbitohs, reported for his first full training session yesterday and could be a late call-up to face the Sharks in a match crucial to the Warriors' finals aspirations.

"He could play this weekend if he gets through the whole week of training but obviously it is up to the [coaches] to pick him," said club doctor John Mayhew.

Rapira's recovery has been slower than hoped but, given initial fears the injury was a season-ending ligament rupture, a return with five matches remaining would still be a positive result.

"He was held back because he was still feeling pain in the back of the knee," Mayhew said.

"He had a bit of an abrasion at the back of the kneecap that was causing a bit of trouble when he was running but that has settled down."

If he misses the Cronulla match Rapira will almost certainly be back for the home match against the Knights on Sunday week.

Wing Kevin Locke (hamstring) is considered a near certainty to be fit for that match, while Jerome Ropati (adductor) is also a strong possibility but neither will play against the Sharks.

Joel Moon has been restored to the centres for Saturday's match, with Lewis Brown reverting to second row and Jacob Lillyman dropping to a five-man bench. Moon last played in the round 18 win over Penrith.

The club yesterday announced it had ended its interest in Steve Matai, withdrawing a contract offer to the Kiwis centre after failing to hear back from his manager Gavin Orr.

"We were keen to bring Steve to the Warriors but throughout the process he has indicated it is his preference to stay with Manly if it was possible," chief executive Wayne Scurrah said.

"We haven't heard from his manager since making our final offer and have now withdrawn it."

Forwards Ben Matulino and Ukuma Ta'ai have committed to the club, with both signing contract extensions yesterday.

Matulino, 21, has agreed to a two-year extension that will see him stay with the club until the end of the 2013 season. Ta'ai, 23, has signed a new deal for next year, while the club also has an option on him for 2012.

"Ben is still a young man but has already played more than 50 NRL matches and played test football for the Kiwis," coach Ivan Cleary said.

"He has been a really solid performer for us this season.

"Ukuma has also shown a lot of improvement since making his debut at this level last year.

"He's a player who is a real threat to opposition defences and one who has the potential to become a lot better yet."

SHARKS

Toyota Stadium 9.30pm Saturday

Nathan Gardner
Blake Ferguson
Dean Collis
Ben Pomeroy
Luke Covell
Trent Barrett (c)
Scott Porter
Kade Snowden
John Morris
Luke Douglas
Grant Millington
Anthony Tupou
Paul Gallen

WARRIORS

Lance Hohaia
Bill Tupou
Brent Tate
Joel Moon
Manu Vatuvei
James Maloney
Brett Seymour
Ben Matulino
Aaron Heremaia
Russell Packer
S. Mannering (c)
Lewis Brown
Micheal Luck

Sharks: Josh Cordoba, Broderick Wright, Paul Aiton, Taulima Tautai, Tim Smith.

Warriors (from): Ian Henderson, Jesse Royal, Jeremy Latimore, Ukuma Ta'ai, Jacob Lillyman.

- NZ Herald

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