NRL sanction on Manly possible after Hopoate's coaching involvement

By @hoopsdontstop30 on
John Hopoate
Manly Sea Eagles face possible NRL sanction over John Hopoate’s involvement in the club’s SG Ball side last weekend. Reuters/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus

The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles could face a sanction and significant fine from the National Rugby League (NRL) after its player and former boxer John Hopoate got involved with the club’s SG Ball side last weekend, going against the wishes of the league’s governing body.

Hopoate had coached the under-18 side in a loss against the Newcastle Knights at Brookvale Oval, but although his status was approved by the New South Wales Rugby League, the NRL insisted that Hapoate's lack of registration as a football official meant his involvement in the SG Ball side was a breach of conduct.

The NRL requires officials of every club to be registered with the league.

"The NRL has been in talks with Manly about the matter for some time and those talks are ongoing," a NRL spokesman told the AAP.

Manly had announced the designation of Hopoate as coach of the under-18 side in October, but the NRL’s administrators did not allow him to assume the position, deeming him unfit to be involved in games following a series of off-pitch troubles.

Hopoate, whose 45 weeks suspension is the longest in NRL history, was suspended for 12 weeks in 2001 when he was charged for sticking his finger up three opposing players' backsides while at the West Tigers. He was then suspended for 17 weeks in 2005 by the Sea Eagles after a dangerous high tackle on Cronulla’s Keith Galloway.

But Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett sees Hopoate differently, saying the former boxer has a lot to offer as a coach. “He is a very generous person, he is a very honest person and I know he does a terrific job with those kids. The people that have those [bad] opinions of him probably don’t know a lot about him,” Barrett said, reports The Guardian.

Meanwhile, Hopoate has been recruited to play for the Avalon Bulldogs in the hybrid rugby game against the Newport Breakers at Rat Park on Mar. 5, reports The Daly Telegraph. Hopoate will be joined by Manly premiership winning prop Mark Bryant to defend the honour of rugby league on the northern beaches.

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