FEATHERSTONE Rovers have launched a fundraising campaign to support seriously injured player Tangi Ropati whose jaw was broken in Rovers’ Challenge cup victory over Castleford.
Support is already pouring in for the 26-year-old player, who underwent an operation to have three steel plates and 13 pins inserted in his jaw and could be out of action for up to four months.
The Samoan international faces a massive loss of income as his work permit states he can only earn money through his employment with Rovers, so the injury means he will lose a substantial sum in match fees and win bonuses.
The club has launched a fundraising appeal in response to initiatives by his team-mates and supporters, while a group of fans are planning a sponsored walk from Halifax to Featherstone when the two clubs meet at the Bigfellas Stadium on Sunday May 6.
Rovers commercial manager Paul Taylor said: “Home-based players have an income from other jobs and have their families and friends to support them but Tangi’s only got what he can earn from the club and any help his partner Emma can give him.
“He’s only been here since Christmas but he’s made a massive impression on the club and supporters, he’s a really friendly bloke and everybody loves him.
“Straight after the Cas game, coach Darryl Powell suggested the players donate some of their win bonus to Tangi, then fans started asking what they could do to help too.”
Doctors say the winger will be unable to eat solid food for eight weeks while his jaw, which was broken in three places when he was struck by Tigers’ stand-off Rangi Chase during the match on April 14, sets back in place. It is then likely to be several more weeks before he regains full match fitness.
Rangi Chase has been banned for three games after being found guilty of striking the Featherstone winger. He received the maximum penalty for the grade C offence from the Rugby Football League disciplinary committee and was fined £300.
The 26-mile sponsored walk is being organised by Paul Gibbins – the man beneath Rovers’ mascot Bluebeard’s costume – and Callum Strangward.
Mr Gibbins said: “We’ll be leaving The Shay, at Halifax, in time to get to Featherstone for the kick-off. There are 11 people definitely walking so far and a few more ‘maybes’.
“The Halifax club have promised to support us and former Great Britain international Bobbie Goulding is keen to do the walk, too, which will be a big achievement for him as he’s due to have a knee operation later that week.”
Donations by cheque, payable to Tangi Ropati Support Fund, can be made at HSBC, 11 Ropergate, Pontefract WF8 1LJ, sort code 40-37-04, account number 51460587.