Jerome Ropati will play his first NRL match in more than three months after being named today in the Vodafone Warriors line-up for Saturdays 24th-round NRL clash against the Gold Coast Titans at Skilled Park in Robina (5.30pm kick-off local time; 7.30pm NZT).
Used as 18th man in the last three matches against Cronulla, Manly and Penrith, the 28-year-old 140-game veteran has been selected on the right wing replacing rookie Ngani Laumape.
Ropatis last NRL outing was coincidentally the eighth-round match against the Titans at Mount Smart Stadium on May 5 when the Vodafone Warriors won 25-24, their fifth consecutive win against Gold Coast.
It was only his second match back at NRL level this year after returning from knee surgery only to be sidelined by a hamstring complaint.
Ropati initially made his way back with the Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup before being brought back into the NRL game day squad for the Cronulla encounter.
Jerome has been working his way back to a return to the NRL, said Vodafone Warriors head coach Matthew Elliott.
He has been a part of all our training lately and it was only a matter of time before he came back into the side.
Ropatis inclusion isnt the only change made to the starting line-up to face the Titans.
After being promoted to start on game day, prop Suaia Matagi is now named in the run-on side for his ninth outing while the back row combination has been altered. Elijah Taylor moves from loose forward to start in the second row, Todd Lowrie will wear the No 13 jersey and Feleti Mateo is on the interchange alongside Ben Matulino, Jacob Lillyman, Dominique Peyroux and Laumape.
Dane Nielsen is named in the centres despite before being forced off with an ankle sprain just 12 minutes into Sundays 24-28 loss to Penrith. Its hoped Nielsen will recover to play what will be his 96th NRL match.
The Vodafone Warriors go into the contest on 22 points, still only two outside the top eight. The Titans hold that eighth spot at the moment level with the ninth-placed Canberra Raiders, the Vodafone Warriors next opponents at home on Saturday, August 31 (5.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: Vodafone).
Newcastle is seventh on 25 points with Brisbane 10th on 23 followed by North Queensland, Penrith and the Vodafone Warriors all on 22.
Captain Simon Mannering will move into outright third spot on the Vodafone Warriors all-time list of appearances when he plays his 186th NRL match this weekend; only Logan Swann (195) and Stacey Jones (261) are ahead of him.
Prop Sam Rapira will make his 149th appearance leaving him set for his 150th at home against the Raiders while fellow front rower Jacob Lillyman lines up for the club for the 98th time to remain on track to join the Vodafone Warriors 100-game club in the final regular season match against St George Illawarra.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v GOLD COAST TITANS
Skilled Park, Robina
5.30pm, Saturday, August 24
12SIMON MANNERING (c)
HEAD COACH: MATTHEW ELLIOTT