Warriors wary of Souths' Kiwi contingent - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Warriors wary of Souths' Kiwi contingent

By Robert Lowe 03/04/2009 05:57:17 PM Comments (0)

It will be mate versus mate when South Sydney travel to Auckland on Sunday, a prospect that has Warriors centre Jerome Ropati on his toes.

The Rabbitohs have a host of players with New Zealand connections, including skipper Roy Asotasi and fellow Kiwis Issac Luke, David Fa'alogo and David Kidwell.

On one wing is Auckland-born Tonga representative Fetuli Talanoa, while Christchurch-born forward Eddy Pettybourne will start on the bench.

Ropati, himself part of the Kiwis' World Cup-winning campaign last year, said the sense of homecoming for many of the Rabbitohs increased their threat.

"They are really dangerous when they're back home and they're playing in front of family," he said.

"That gets them going quite a bit, so we'll have to watch out for them."

The fact that match will be a tribute to promising Warrior Sonny Fai is also sure to raise emotion levels on both sides.

The second rower, who would have turned 21 a fortnight ago, is presumed drowned after going missing while rescuing his brother and cousins at a west Auckland beach in early January.

Fai was well known to the South Sydney New Zealanders, and Luke said his try celebration against Newcastle last Sunday, when he pointed to the heavens, was in honour of his former age-group team-mate.

The Warriors, despite a long injury list, remain favourites with bookmakers to get pass the Rabbitohs.

The latest Warriors unavailable are two of the club's most experienced - skipper Steve Price, with a throat problem, and centre Brent Tate, with a season-ending knee ligament rupture.

Ropati said the similar knee injury suffered by fullback Wade McKinnon in a pre-season trial last year had helped the squad come to terms with the loss of Tate.

"We've gone through that before and we've been able to pull through," he said.

"We're just hoping that the guys who are on the short-term injury list come back soon."

Apart from Price and Tate, other first-grade regulars on the sidelines are Lance Hohaia, Manu Vatuvei, Ben Matulino and Evarn Tuimavave.

Ropati, who this week re-signed with the club until the end of 2012, was confident the replacements called up would do a more than adequate job in filling in.

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