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 nights 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 clubs 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 weekends trial against Hamilton when he returned home after his grandfather passed away. Hell 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 weve all admired the way he has gone about it, he said.


He knows better than anyone else what its like when you go through setbacks of the type he has endured. Hes a quality player and person, one whos so important to our club and our team.


Were all looking forward to having him back. He has done the work and theres 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. Lowries inclusion is the only change to the starting combination Elliott used against the Panthers.


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Saturday nights 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.


Were 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 couldnt be happier about spending time in Dunedin.


Were 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 clubs annual charity golf day, the Vodafone Warriors have a jammed days 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


VODAFONE WARRIORS


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

Interchange:

1 GLEN FISIIAHI

5 CHARLIE GUBB

15 SAM RAPIRA

17 CARLOS TUIMAVAVE

18 ALEHANA MARA

21 JEROME ROPATI

23 SEBASTINE IKAHIHIFO

24 STEVE RAPIRA


HEAD COACH: MATTHEW ELLIOTT