League: Ropati re-signs with Warriors

By Michael Brown

Jerome Ropati.
Jerome Ropati.

Jerome Ropati will extend his Warriors career into a 12th season after signing a new one-year contract with the club.

The 28-year-old centre made his Warriors debut in 2003 but injuries restricted him to just 15 games over the past three seasons.

The club still see him in their plans and offered him a one-year contract, which was signed last week. It's likely to be on reduced terms from his last one, given his run of injuries which included two knee reconstructions.

"I can understand why the club would commit to only one year and the reality is, if he returns to form and plays a good part in the season, we will probably be sitting down and looking to extend that,'' Ropati's agent Bruce Sharrock said. "If it doesn't work out that way, we will look at alternatives and life after footy which is a reality for any player.

"He's 28 and this is going to be his first full off-season in two years and he still believes he has good football left in him. He's been playing catchup now for two years through injury, always rehabbing. Anyone who has had those injuries will tell you while medically you are cleared to go six or nine months after it can take a lot of time before you are back to where you were.

Jerome is feeling the best he has in two years and is just excited about getting an off-season.''

Sharrock cited the example of former Warriors centre Brent Tate, who needed three knee reconstructions in five years. The 31-year-old contemplated retirement but remained in the game and is now in the UK with the Australian side for the World Cup.

Ropati wants to be a one-club player and didn't have any other options on the table. He decided about three months ago he wanted to continue playing and has talked in the past about wanting to repay the club after showing faith in him.

He will battle for a starting spot in the centres next season with the likes of Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Ngani Laumape and Ben Henry.

It's likely he would have retired if the Warriors had opted against re-signing him, although they have talked about wanting to keep him at the club in some off-field capacity once his playing days are over.

Ropati has played 142 NRL games, which puts him 10th on the all-time list for the Warriors - Stacey Jones leads with 261 - and 11 tests for the Kiwis.

- NZ Herald

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