League: Ropati named in Warriors squad

By Michael Brown

Jerome Ropati has been included in the Warriors' 18 to face the Panthers this Sunday. Photo / Getty
Jerome Ropati has been included in the Warriors' 18 to face the Panthers this Sunday. Photo / Getty

Jerome Ropati is in the frame for a return to the Warriors side after having been included in an extended bench to face Penrith at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.

The centre, who is off contract at the end of the season, played against the Storm and Titans in rounds seven and eight before injury hit again and has worked his way back into form with the Vulcans in recent weeks.

He missed their last outing last weekend, instead travelling to Gosford to provide cover for the NRL side against Manly and has been included as 18th man against the Panthers.

The right-edge defence has been a concern for the Warriors all season but it was the left edge which was exposed in the 27-12 defeat to Manly on Sunday and Ropati offers considerable experience as the pressure to make the top eight mounts. The Warriors probably need to win their last four games to secure a spot in the top eight but go into the match on the back of consecutive defeats.

They take on a Penrith outfit who have lost their last four games in convincing fashion - Newcastle (14-32), Cronulla (10-38), the Sydney Roosters (6-42) and North Queensland (4-36) - but hammered the Warriors 62-6 the last time the two sides met.

"While they may not have good recent form we, of all teams, know what they're capable of,'' Elliott said.

"We'll undoubtedly be reminded about what happened the last time we met but a lot has changed since then. We've shown plenty of improvement generally but had a tough day against a very, very good Manly side on Sunday.

"This is a game of major significance for us. Every game, every week is. What we need to do is to strive for the type of performance we know we're capable of.

It will be captain Simon Mannering's 185th career appearance, drawing him level with Lance Hohaia in third on the Warriors' all-time list behind only Logan Swann (195) and Stacey Jones (261). Still only 26, Mannering will lead the side for the 85th time leaving him only six games short of equalling Steve Price's club record of 91 games in charge from 2005-2009.

Prop Sam Rapira will edge closer to his 150-game milestone with his 148th match for the club while fellow front rower Jacob Lillyman plays his 97th game since joining the club in 2009.

Warriors side to play Penrith at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday (4pm):
Kevin Locke, Ngani Laumape, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Sam Rapira, Nathan Friend, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (c), Elijah Taylor. Interchange: Suaia Matagi, Jacob Lillyman, Todd Lowrie, Dominique Peyroux, Jerome Ropati.

- APNZ

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