SAINTS have welcomed some fine overseas players over the years and today's Throwback Thursday looks at one of those fine Kiwi recruits from the early 1990s - Tea Ropati (Heritage Number 1021)

Although hampered by a knee injury initially, Ropati became a key asset to Mike McClennan's side that challenged Wigan's dominance.

A fine skilful footballer, with good hands and a keen eye for the gap made him a potent attacking weapon at centre or at stand-off.

He scored 56 tries, kicked 24 goals and two drop goals from 129 appearances in the red vee after signing from Mangere East.

Ropati played centre in the Saints team that pushed Wigan close in the 1991 Challenge Cup Final after McClennan's men had pulled off the shock of beating Widnes in the semi-finals.

Ropati grabbed his first medal - the Lancashire Cup - when Saints beat Wigan in the semi and then Rochdale Hornets in the final at Wilderspool.

Ropati switched to stand off - and was ever-present with 40 matches in the titanic 1992-93 season in which Saints gave full time Wigan a run for their money in all comps, playing a fine brand of fast, open football.

St Helens Star:

The Riversiders squeaked the last-ever Lancashire Cup final 5-4 at Knowsley Road, and sneaked the First Division Championship on points difference.

But Ropati helped Saints win the Premiership Trophy at Old Trafford against their bitter foe.

The following year was tough all round for Saints, with Ropati moving on to Auckland Warriors at the season's end.

In coming weeks we will be commencing a dedicated sports nostalgia page that will become a regular feature on the sixth page of the St Helens Star's expanded coverage.

We look forward to triggering readers' memories and hearing your responses to articles in the Star's Looking Back page.