John Hopoate pokes the bottom of a Newcastle Knights player in Sturday's Legends of League Tournament on the Central Coast. Picture: Tim Hunter
John Hopoate pokes the bottom of a Newcastle Knights player in Sturday's Legends of League Tournament on the Central Coast. Picture: Tim Hunter

‘Grubby’ John Hopoate gives NRL the finger — again

THE Legends of League tournament has descended into farce on the Central Coast with John Hopoate re-enacting one of the grubbiest incidents in rugby league history.

Wearing a white glove onto the field, the old Manly Sea Eagles winger Hopoate finger-poked opponents in Saturday's  match against the Newcastle Knights.

He was banned for 12 weeks in 2001 for the same revolting act on a Cowboys player, with judiciary chairman Jim Hall describing it as the most disgusting incident he had dealt with in 45 years.

Sure this time it was lighthearted, but still repulsive.

More recently the 44-year-old was banned for 10 years (five of them suspended) for three code of conduct charges following his send-off in a match playing for Narraweena Hawks.

Hopoate gives the cameras the finger while sitting on the sideline alongside Manly legends Cliff Lyons and Steve Menzies. Picture: Tim Hunter
Hopoate gives the cameras the finger while sitting on the sideline alongside Manly legends Cliff Lyons and Steve Menzies. Picture: Tim Hunter

NSWRL chief executive David Trodden said at the time: "Every governing body has an obligation to the participants who play our game to ensure they can play in a safe and enjoyable environment."

Yet Hopoate took the field with his old Manly teammates and the governing body could do nothing about it.

"The tournament is not sanctioned by any official rugby league body," Trodden said.

"The NSWRL has no jurisdiction over the competition."

Hopoate in action against the Barbarians on Saturday. Picture: Tim Hunter
Hopoate in action against the Barbarians on Saturday. Picture: Tim Hunter

Hopoate's son Will, the Bulldogs' fullback, spoke about the infamous incident back in 2001 on Players' Voice last week.

"The bum-poking incident turned out to be a great example of John's resilience," he said.

"I didn't realise it at the time but, looking back, I do now.

Spectators couldn’t miss Hopoate’s white glove. Picture: Tim Hunter
Spectators couldn’t miss Hopoate’s white glove. Picture: Tim Hunter

"His old teammates have since told me the whole thing was supposed to be a prank to watch in team video sessions. It ended up costing him his personal brand for life, pretty much.

"It was a difficult time for our family. I was eight years old - my other siblings were six, three, two and a newborn - and I'd wake up to dozens of media people camped outside our home every day."

News Corp Australia


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