Warriors Orange Peeler
Ropati returns for Dunedin trial
Tuesday 19 February 2013 11:18 PM
Jerome Ropati (pictured) will play his first game in 10 months and Todd Lowrie his first for his new club when the Vodafone Warriors take on Brisbane in Saturday night’s historic NRL trial at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin (7.30pm kick-off). Photo: Photosport.
Ropati has been sidelined since having his 2012 campaign ended by another knee injury in the club’s 10th-round encounter with the Sydney Roosters in Auckland last May.
The 28-year-old 11-season veteran has been named on the bench for his planned return in the Vodafone Warriors’ final trial before they open their 2013 programme against Parramatta on Saturday, March 9. A weeks later they stage their blockbuster first home game of the season – ED3N – THE RISING – against the Sydney Roosters at Eden Park (March 16).
Lowrie missed last weekend’s trial against Hamilton when he returned home after his grandfather passed away. He’ll line up at loose forward in his first outing for the Vodafone Warriors after joining the club from Melbourne.
Also returning are Sam and Steve Rapira who were ruled out of the Hamilton hit-out after originally being named.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Matthew Elliott was especially pleased the way had been cleared for Ropati to make his comeback.
“It has been another long battle back from injury for Jerome and we’ve all admired the way he has gone about it,” he said.
“He knows better than anyone else what it’s like when you go through setbacks of the type he has endured. He’s a quality player and person, one who’s so important to our club and our team.
“We’re all looking forward to having him back. He has done the work and there’s no doubt he deserves a change of luck.”
With 2012 premiership winner Lowrie in the side, Feleti Mateo is named in the second row with captain Simon Mannering. Lowrie’s inclusion is the only change to the starting combination Elliott used against the Panthers.
Saturday night’s match is the first experience Dunedin has had of NRL football and it will also be the first time the Vodafone Warriors play in a covered stadium in New Zealand.
“We’re absolutely thrilled about the chance to head south to Dunedin,” said Elliott.
“Taking the Vodafone Warriors to other areas in the country is hugely beneficial for all concerned and we couldn’t be happier about spending time in Dunedin.
“We’re certainly hoping people from all parts of the South Island will come along to be part of what will be a special night for rugby league.”
After spending Tuesday at the Titirangi Golf Club at the club’s annual charity golf day, the Vodafone Warriors have a jammed day’s training today (Wednesday) before flying to Dunedin on Thursday afternoon.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v BRISBANE BRONCOS
Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
7.30pm, Saturday, February 23
Referees: Ashley Klein and Phil Haines
22 KEVIN LOCKE
2 BILL TUPOU
3 DANE NIELSEN
4 KONRAD HURRELL
25 MANU VATUVEI
6 THOMAS LEULUAI
7 SHAUN JOHNSON
8 JACOB LILLYMAN
14 ELIJAH TAYLOR
10 BEN MATULINO
11 FELETI MATEO
12 SIMON MANNERING (c)
16 TODD LOWRIE
1 GLEN FISIIAHI
5 CHARLIE GUBB
15 SAM RAPIRA
17 CARLOS TUIMAVAVE
18 PITA GODINET (late replacement for Alehana Mara, groin injury)
21 JEROME ROPATI
23 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO
24 STEVE RAPIRA
HEAD COACH: MATTHEW ELLIOTT
1 Josh Hoffman
2 Delroy Berryman
3 Justin Hodges
4 Jordan Kahu
5 Lachlan Maranta
6 Corey Norman
7 Peter Wallace
8 Ben Hannant
9 Andrew McCullough
10 Josh McGuire
11 Alex Glenn ©
12 Matt Gillett
13 Corey Parker
14 Scott Prince
15 Sam Thaiday
16 Ben Hunt
17 David Stagg
18 Mitchell Dodds
19 Scott Anderson
20 Jack Reed
21 Joe Bond
HEAD COACH: Anthony Griffen
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21
The Vodafone Warriors’ travelling party of football department, players and staff is due to land at Dunedin Airport at 1.10pm on Air New Zealand. Travelling with the team on a grabaseat-themed flight will be a large group of Vodafone Warriors members and fans.
Canterbury of New Zealand Dunedin
210 George Street
Lion Red Bar Visit – The Baaa Sports Bar
1 Great King Street
Lion Red Bar Visit – Starters
157 Frederick Street
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22
Brockville School and Abbotsford School
Bradford School and Green Island School
Kaikorai Valley College and Balaclava School
The Vodafone Warriors will have a field session at Carisbrook followed by a recovery session at Moana Pool.
267 George Street
Great King Street
Highlanders v Chiefs, Forsyth Barr Stadium:
Vodafone Warriors head coach Matthew Elliott, football staff, players and club management will attend the Super 15 rugby union match between the Highlanders and the Chiefs.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23
185 Crawford Street
155 King Edward Street
Community Roots Carnival
12.45pm-1.15pm: The Vodafone Warriors’ playing squad and staff will
attend the clinic and mix with kids involved.
VODAFONE WARRIORS V BRISBANE, FORSYTH BARR STADIUM:
6.30pm Gates open
7.30pm Vodafone Warriors v Brisbane Broncos
9.10pm Game finishes (players to sign autographs)