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Ropati's tough NRL retirement call

Thursday, May 29, 2014

AUCKLAND - Warriors NRL centre Jerome Ropati has endured some difficult times with injury, including having to battle back twice from season-ending knee damage.

But he rates the period after breaking his jaw in late March as the toughest, as he pondered his future before deciding it was time to hang up his boots.

The 11-Test Kiwi says he was able to cope quite well with his previous spells in the casualty.

"I've been able to keep the fire in the belly and the desire to come out and train hard to get back out on the field," he said.

"But the couple of months since the broken jaw, I've had time to sit down and it hit me mentally that, physically, I'm incapable of lasting.

"I'm fit to play, but I'm not confident of going out there and lasting 80 minutes or consecutive games."

Ropati's retirement comes after a career spanning 12 NRL seasons, beginning with his debut as an 18-year-old off the bench against the Sydney Roosters in 2003.

He played 145 times for the Warriors, scoring 54 tries, but made just 18 appearances since the start of 2011 as he fought a series of injuries.

His last match came in the 42-18 win over the Wests Tigers in Wellington, when he broke his jaw while making a tackle.

Asked about highlights, Ropati points to 2008. The achievement of an unfancied Warriors side in reaching the preliminary final that year was followed by the Kiwis' huge upset over the Kangaroos in the World Cup final, with Ropati among the try-scorers.

"There were moments there where we struggled for long periods and you build close relationships that way. I'll forever remember those times."

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