Jerome Ropati of the Warriors. Photo: Getty Images
WELLINGTON: Centre Jerome Ropati will end 10 months of frustration when he plays in the New Zealand Warriors' trial match against the Brisbane Broncos in Dunedin on Saturday.
Ropati has been sidelined since his 2012 campaign was ended by a knee injury in the club's 10th-round match against the Sydney Roosters in Auckland last May.
The 11-season veteran is on the interchange bench for the club's final trial match ahead of their competition opener against Parramatta in Sydney on March 9.
Coach Matthew Elliott said he admired 28-year-old Ropati's persistence in getting himself ready, having suffered a spate of serious injuries in recent seasons.
"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," Elliott said.
Former Melbourne Storm lock Todd Lowrie will make his club debut a week later than scheduled.
He missed the trial loss to Penrith at Hamilton on Saturday when he returned home after his grandfather died.
Also returning are brothers Sam and Steve Rapira who were ruled out of the Hamilton match with niggles after originally being named.
Lowrie's inclusion is the only starting change to the side that played the Panthers. Feleti Mateo shifts to the second row alongside captain Simon Mannering.
Elliott will be hoping his squad emerge injury-free from the match following a spate of issues early in 2013.
Second-rower Sam Lousi suffered a foot stress fracture in the Hamilton game and is ruled out for up to two months. Earlier this month his older brother Sione Lousi was ruled out for the season with a knee injury.
Hooker Nathan Friend won't play until April while he recovers from a shoulder operation, while prop Russell Packer will miss the first month after bicep surgery.
Warriors: Kevin Locke, Bill Tupou, Dane Nielsen, Konrad Hurrell, Manu Vatuvei, Thomas Leuluai, Shaun Johnson, Jacob Lillyman, Elijah Taylor, Ben Matulino, Feleti Mateo, Simon Mannering (capt), Todd Lowrie. Interchange: Glen Fisiiahi, Charlie Gubb, Sam Rapira, Carlos Tuimavave, Alehana Mara, Jerome Ropati, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Steve Rapira