Rovers star Ropati returning to New Zealand

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FEATHERSTONE coach Daryl Powell has confirmed that winger Tangi Ropati is leaving the club.

The 27-year-old Samoan international (pictured) is returning home to New Zealand where his wife is a doctor.

Former Sheffield and Widnes player Ropati scored 16 tries in 14 Rovers appearances last season.

He was sidelined for three months after he sustained a broken jaw in the Challenge Cup win over Castleford Tigers in April.

“Tangi’s wife is a doctor in New Zealand and she has to specialise pretty soon in order for her career to go where it needs to so he has made the decision he is going home and that’s fine,” said Powell.

“I think he has been really good for us - he’s a good quality kid. He had an unfortunate injury which made it difficult for him to get exactly what he wanted out of the season but when he came back he certainly showed he could finish and score tries.

“He was a great bloke to have at the club and a good character and he did well for us when he was on the field. It was just that he was impacted pretty heavily by the injury.

“I think if he had been staying we would definitely have liked to keep him. He is the sort of player we want at the club but these things are sometimes out of our hands and we wish him all the best.”

Despite Ropati’s departure, Powell is happy with the cover on the wings for next season and is delighted with the overall strength of the squad.

“We’ve signed Tom Hodson and we’ve also got Ben Hellewell who can play on the wing. We’ve also got Kyran Johnson coming through, although it might be a year too early for him. There are certainly people there who if they progress will get opportunities,” he added.

“I think we’ve got a really good squad together. I am excited for next year because we have a good mix of experience and youth.

“We have some great young kids coming to the club. Some of the quality we’ve brought in will really enhance us next year.

“We had already got quality young players like Kyran Johnson, James Kitchen, Liam Mackay and Jack Bussey who should have a really good opportunity to work hard in pre-season and give themselves a good chance to play first-team next year.

“It’s competitive across the squad and every position is looking pretty solid. I am looking forward to an exciting year.

“The reason you have a deep squad is to make sure people don’t get it too easy. Potentially, a couple of our players had it a little bit too easy last season and we need to make sure there’s none of that next season and everybody is pressed for their place and I think that’s what we’ve got.”

Powell will be having talks with centre or back-rower Nathan Chappell.

“There are a couple of people who haven’t yet signed a contract and Nathan Chappell is one of them,” he said.

“His future is a little bit uncertain but we will sort that out in the next week or two. I need to have a sit down with Nathan and see where he is at. I need to make sure it is right for him to stay at the club and it’s right for us to retain him.”