Robson a key recruit for Warriors: Ropati
Former Shark Jeff Robson will be the most influential recruit at the Warriors this season according to club legend Jerome Ropati.
While high profile Kiwis duo Issac Luke and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck have drawn the most fanfare since announcing they would be moving back across the ditch, it's Robson who Ropati expects to carry much of the burden.
"A lot of people are talking about Shaun [Johnson], Issac and Roger. But Jeff Robson, to me, is the key because he's going to be the one to steer the ship 80 per cent of the time to ensure everything goes to plan," Ropati told NRL.com.
"Johnson does what he does as a talent, and he can take that other 20 per cent and just really take off. Jeff will be a complement to Shaun [Johnson].
"Robson's valuable because of his experience too. He's value because of who he is as a person as well. He's a really good guy who gives a lot of time to our younger players."
Popular opinion would have Thomas Leuluai as favourite to partner Shaun Johnson in the halves in 2016, but this isn't locked in stone according to Ropati.
Ropati believes that Leuluai - having not played since mid-May after tearing his ACL against the Parramatta Eels - could play second fiddle to Luke from the interchange.
"Judging by what I see from training Thomas is fighting back to fitness and I'm guessing he'll factor into the halves at some point and likely play reserve hooker," Ropati said.
"That's still not determined at the moment though, everyone is still training in multiple positions so it's hard to get a gauge on anyone apart from the big name players we're used to."
Ropati is a Warriors and NRL ambassador and his predominant focus continues to remain off the field. The former Kiwis international is the first and (so far) only male in such a role in New Zealand.
Aided by Kiwi Fern Georgia Hale, 31-year-old Ropati said his role was a "privileged position".
"It's good to be able to help change people's focus that the NRL isn't just about what happens on the field, that there is an off-field presence which involves us going to schools and delivering programs especially to do with health and learning," Ropati said.
"A lot of what we do at the Warriors is based on the values and principles of the NRL, so what we do is we tailor it to make sure it fits our audience and the people back home.
"There are a few differences there in how we deliver and how we send out different messages. Generally though, the NRL are on the same terms as us with our programs and the level that they are [appropriated]."