You could perhaps call him one of the NRL’s unluckiest players, with Warriors utility back Jerome Ropati seemingly always injured, unfortunately.
With the thought of looming injuries to come, Ropati has admitted that he may have played his last game of rugby league – though he will fight with all he has, to ensure that that is not the case.
Ropati, 27, has played only 18 games in the past 3 seasons, and is out for the remainder of this year, after dislocating his patella tendon in Rd 10, requiring surgery.
“It is what it is,” said a disappointed Ropati in his first interview since the injury.
“I had the operation a week ago and I’m just in recovery mode now.
“I tore the patella tendon and dislocated my kneecap. But I’ve had it stitched back up.”
Last year, it was the ACL that Ropati injured, resulting in his missing the Warriors run to the finals, and ultimately, to the grand final.
Whilst injuries are never pleasant, Ropati’s latest setback is the one that has him disappointed, more than any other that he has sustained.
“I love the game because I love competing. I love being out there and trying to win. I can’t do that at the moment.
“I’m over it. Well, a part of me is and a part of me is finding it hard to watch the games at the moment because it does hurt a little bit.”
It was just before the injury, that Ropati signed a 1-year extension with the New Zealand Warriors, making him the club’s longest serving player.
Ropati knows that the key is getting both his knee and body back to full fitness, but knows that if his knee does not respond to the rigorous demands he will place on it, then his playing career might unfortunately, be over.
“I’ve signed a one-year deal and that was under conditions when I was currently playing,” he said.
“I’ve injured my knee and now things have changed. I can’t control that. But what I can control is hopefully getting my knee right, training hard and getting back in the team.
“That [quitting] hasn’t entered my mind. I’m going to see how this knee reacts. If it reacts in a way that is not conducive to playing football, then I’ll have to think about those things.
“But it’s too early to say.”
Working in Ropati’s favour however, is that the knee injury he suffered this season, is not as bad as the one he suffered last season – a positive sign, in an otherwise disappointing end to his year.
Ropati is also taking motivation out from the leaf of former team-mate Brent Tate, who had to overcome knee injuries of his own, just to play first-grade again.
“It’s probably going to be a quicker healing process this time around,” Ropati said.
“Last time, it took about six months and this time I think it’s going to take three months for the tendon to heal properly.
“There’s a bit of metal wiring in there to hold it together and I’ll be able to start running again in three months. It then really depends on how well the knee reacts after that.
“I watched him [Tate] playing Origin recently and he’s come back strongly. I also remember him when he was here, just his work ethic and the fact he just wouldn’t give up after his second ACL injury.
“I can take a bit of motivation out of that … and I’ve always been a fighter.”