14 Aug 2013

Ropati in Warriors frame

5:49 am on 14 August 2013

Jerome Ropati's in line for his first NRL league game for the New Zealand Warriors since May.

Ropati's been named on a five-man bench for Sunday's must-win home game against Penrith.

Coach Matthew Elliott has otherwise retained the same 17 players who have turned out in the Warriors' past three matches - though he's swapped his centres around in a bid to bolster his right-side defence, with Konrad Hurrell changing places with Dane Nielsen.

Ropati, 28, has made 140 first-grade appearances, but his previous two seasons were ruined by serious knee injuries.

The former Kiwi has again had a disrupted year, turning out just twice in the NRL in between battling injuries or playing for the Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup.

He missed the Vulcans' big win over Canterbury-Bankstown last weekend, travelling to Gosford instead to provide cover for the Warriors' outside backs against Manly.

With four rounds to go, the Warriors sit 10th, two points above the 13th-placed Penrith, who inflicted a 62-6 thrashing on them in May.

While the Warriors' comeback since that defeat has been stalled by losses over the past two weekends to Cronulla and the Sea Eagles, the Panthers have dropped their last four.