NRL: Luckless Ropati can't get a break

By Michael Brown

Latest stroke of bad luck a broken jaw that may put the Warriors centre out of action for up to 12 weeks.

Jerome Ropati broke his jaw in the NRL match against Wests Tigers on Saturday. Photo / Richard Robinson
Jerome Ropati broke his jaw in the NRL match against Wests Tigers on Saturday. Photo / Richard Robinson

There are some players who go through entire careers without major injuries. Then there is Jerome Ropati.

The Warriors centre suffered a broken jaw in the 42-18 win over the Wests Tigers in Wellington on Saturday when he made an important tackle on James Tedesco close to the Warriors' line, only for Tedesco's knee to land on Ropati's jaw. He was due to undergo surgery in Wellington yesterday and could be out for up to 12 weeks.

It is, sadly, the latest in a long list of injuries. Saturday's game was his third this year and only his 18th in just over three years.

He's endured two knee reconstructions, a couple of fractured kneecaps, shoulder, ankle and hamstring injuries and now a broken jaw.

"Unlucky?" Ropati pondered last year. "Yeah, I guess you could say that. But there are some guys, I think, who have been through a lot worse than I have."

You'd be hard pressed to find them.

Ropati has played 145 NRL games since his debut in 2003, which means he has missed an average of 10 games a season. If he had remained injury-free, the 29-year-old might have even broken Stacey Jones' Warriors record of 261 games.

The latest will have repercussions because Ropati is off contract at the end of the season and it's questionable whether any club would look to pick up a player who could be seen as damaged goods.

"We are all gutted," Warriors coach Matt Elliott said. "We can only wish Jerome a speedy recovery.

Jerome Ropati broke his jaw in the NRL match against Wests Tigers on Saturday. Photo / Richard Robinson
Jerome Ropati broke his jaw in the NRL match against Wests Tigers on Saturday. Photo / Richard Robinson

"All the boys were really enjoying having him in the team. He brings a real solidarity around him so he's going to be sorely missed during his recovery."

The upside is that Konrad Hurrell is playing with the sort of purpose that makes him one of the most dangerous runners in the NRL and will slot directly into right centre for next Saturday's trip to take on the Sharks. He ran for a game-high 182m in his 68 minutes, laying on three tries for Glen Fisiiahi and making six tackle breaks and two linebreaks.

The right edge was the highlight of a very good attacking display against the Tigers and Fisiiahi cashed in with four tries. the first time a Warriors player had scored four since 2009. Halfback Shaun Johnson's kicking game was also excellent.

Last weekend against the Cowboys he kicked for nearly 500m with some intelligent long kicks; this week he stabbed in a number of grubber kicks which either resulted in tries or repeat sets - the Tigers were forced to make four goal line dropouts.

"That's what you want from your halves and I thought he showed a lot of patience," captain Simon Mannering said. "We probably got more repeat sets than we have for a long time and I think it showed on the scoreboard."

The Warriors played very well at times against the Tigers but they also had their share of luck, with seemingly every bounce of the ball going their way. Ropati deserves some of that luck to go his way.

- APNZ

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