Warriors centre Jerome Ropati today announced he had decided to call time on his playing career.
The 29-year-old has had his last four seasons severely restricted by injuries, playing just 18 NRL games. Ropati's retirement ends an era in which he played across 12 NRL seasons and was a Rugby League World Cup winner with the Kiwis in 2008.
Regarded as one of the game's best centres in his prime, his last action for the Warriors came in March when he broke his jaw against the Wests Tigers, his 145th and final game.
"It's the right time for me to look ahead, to consider my family and my post-playing career," Ropati said. "It hasn't been an easy decision to reach because this isn't the way I wanted to finish. I love playing this game and I love playing for the Warriors.
"I'm still young enough to carry on but the reality is my body is telling me it's time to move on."
While ending his playing days, Ropati won't be lost to rugby league or to theWarriors. Chief executive Wayne Scurrah said Ropati would take up a role as a club ambassador for the rest of the season, with plans to consider a full-time position for the longest-serving player in the 2014 NRL squad.
"I've got so many great memories of my time as a player for both theWarriors and the Kiwis. I've also got so many mates at this club, a place which has been such a huge part of my life.
"I want to thank all the teammates I've had through the years, all the coaches, staff and members with a special thanks to the medical staff who have helped me get through my injuries."
Scurrah said the whole club shared Ropati's disappointment over his retirement.
"Jerome has been a terrific player for the Warriors and has showed so much courage and dedication in the way he has come back from his injuries," he said.
"Above all he's an exceptional person. We all have the greatest admiration for him and thank him for the huge contribution he has made both on and off the field during his playing career.
"He has always been a fantastic ambassador for the club through the work he has done in the community and the way he has conducted himself. He's has so much to offer the game off the field."
Finishing five games short of joining the club's 150-game club, Ropati (Warrior No 108) scored 54 tries, one of only six Vodafone Warriors to top 50 tries behind Manu Vatuvei, Stacey Jones, Francis Meli, Lance Hohaia and Clinton Toopi.