NRL: Ropati wants to finish with Warriors

Jerome Ropati. Photo / Greg Bowker
Jerome Ropati. Photo / Greg Bowker

Jerome Ropati is set to become the second-longest serving Warriors player in history after signing a one-year extension but, at his age, has the chance to establish a record that will be hard to eclipse.

Even though he is only 27, Ropati will next season draw level with Awen Guttenbeil as an 11-season veteran with only Stacey Jones, who played 12 seasons at Mt Smart Stadium, ahead of him.

Both Ropati and coach Brian McClennan talked yesterday about the utility seeing out his playing days at the Warriors but, given his troubles with injury throughout his career, it's hard to know when that might be.

It's why the club announced only a one-year extension to the end of 2013 rather than anything longer term. Ropati needs to prove he is over his injuries after a fractured past 18 months that has seen him miss games with ankle, shoulder and hamstring injuries as well as a serious knee complaint.

Ropati has played 137 NRL games since his debut in 2003 - Guttenbeil played 170 games for the Warriors and Jones a club record 261.

"Ideally I would like more than [a one-year extension] but a year gives me some time to think about things and see where I am at,'' Ropati said. "Hopefully I can hit some form so I can earn another contract either here or somewhere else. I want to stay here and finish my career here.

"It's a good time frame for me to play some footy and not worry about what is going to happen next year because it's already settled. It also gives me another year to hopefully be part of a premiership-winning side.''

Ropati is still the premium centre at the Warriors _ although he will once again line up at fullback against the Roosters with the injuries to both Kevin Locke and Glen Fisiiahi _ but will come under increasing pressure with the arrival of Dane Nielsen from Melbourne in 2013 as well as continued development of youngsters Ben Henry and Konrad Hurrell.

Henry is a second-rower or lock by trade and could shift there with Lewis Brown heading to Penrith next season but he has done a decent job as a centre of late and could see out the rest of the season there.

But Ropati's influence extends beyond what he does on the field and takes his role as a senior player seriously. He's also the club's One Community ambassador.

"Jerome's experience and versatility are so important for us,'' McClennan said. "With so many young players coming through into our NRL side, we need good people like Jerome to mentor them and help us with our culture.

"It's great to have Jerome staying on. We want him to stay here for his whole career. It's just a matter of working things out, which we will do.''


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