NSW CUP PREVIEW: Ropati for Vulcans

Vodafone Warriors centre Jerome Ropati will make his full comeback from another major knee operation when he lines up for the Auckland Vulcans in their fourth-round New South Wales Cup match against Windsor at Mount Smart Stadium today (1.35pm kick-off).


The 138-game veteran, eyeing his 11th season in the NRL, had his 2012 campaign ended by a knee injury in May having made just eight appearances.


After working his way back during the offseason, Ropati made his first steps towards a full return in the Vodafone Warriors trial win against Brisbane in Dunedin on February 23.


He still had some concerns with his left knee following the trial but will today begin his way back into contention for a return to NRL football.

He has been called into the centres for the Vulcans with Atelea Nafetalai moving to the wing.


Ropati also missed all but three games of the 2011 season when he needed knee surgery after rupturing the ACL in his left knee.


Gates open at 1.30pm for todays tripleheader with the Vulcans match followed by the NYC game between the Vodafone Junior Warriors and North Queensland (3.45pm) and the Vodafone Warriors-Cowboys NRL contest (6.00pm).


After beating Newtown in their first home game of the season in the second round, the Vulcans fell to Newcastle on their demanding away trip last weekend.


Apart from Ropatis return, theyve received a boost for todays clash with ex-Penrith halfback Harry Siejka returning after missing last weeks match with concussion.


Also coming back from injury is former Vodafone Junior Warriors prop Nathaniel Peteru, who played in the Vodafone Warriors NRL trial against Gold Coast in February but dislocated his elbow in a Vulcans trial a week later.


On the flip side, the Vulcans have suffered two setbacks with second rower Dominique Peyroux (jaw) and hooker Alehana Mara (ankle) both out of contention.


In Maras absence, Siliva Havili, still eligible to play for the Vodafone Junior Warriors in the NYC, will start at hooker while Steve Waetford partners Siejka in the halves.


Named to start at halfback for Windsor, Penriths feeder club, is former Vodafone Warrior Isaac John, recently signed by the Panthers after a stint with Wakefield in the English Super League. Included on the bench is ex-Vodafone Junior Warrior Neccrom Areaiiti while former Kiwi captain Gary Freemans son Krys is named to start at hooker.


AUCKLAND VULCANS v WINDSOR WOLVES


Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland

1.35pm, Monday, April 1

Referee: Jamal Thompson


AUCKLAND VULCANS


1 ZORAM WATENE

4 ATELEA NAFETALAI

3 SIO SIUA TAUKEIAHO

19 JEROME ROPATI

5 TANGI ROPATI

6 STEVE WAETFORD

7 HARRY SIEJKA

8 SUAIA MATAGI

9 SILIVA HAVILI

10 DANIEL PALAVI

11 JOHN PALAVI

12 AGNATIUS PAASI

13 MURRAY ITI

Interchange:

14 AARON NOOTAI

15 NATHANIEL PETERU

16 PATRICK SIPLEY

17 HERMAN RETZLAFF


HEAD COACH: WILLIE SWANN