Former NRL player John Hopoate has strengthened his chances of entering the Downlow Medal Hall of Fame following a battle with authorities over his junior coaching career.
The most suspended player in the history of the game is locked in a legal tussle with Rugby League’s governing body which believes he is unfit to coach the Manly Sea Eagles u/18 team.
The Downlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the NRL, Australian Football League (AFL), the A League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition.
Hopoate himself represented the Sea Eagles as well as the Wests Tigers and the now defunct Northern Eagles and believes his actions as a player and recent brushes with the law should not bar him from coaching teenage boys.
“I’ve got my finger on the pulse” he asserted.
“I played the game, I played it hard and that’s what I teach these boys. I can honestly say I’ve improved the team’s penetration in attack and their ability to make the opposition feel very uncomfortable”.
Hopoate is aiming to join a prestigious list of Hall of Fame inductees which includes:
Ben Cousins, West Coast Eagles, AFL. Awarded for General Excellence.
Joel Monaghan, Canberra Raiders, NRL. Awarded for promotion of the care and protection of animals and the RSPCA.
Todd Carney, Sydney Roosters and Cronulla Sharks, NRL. Awarded for his work as ambassador for World Water Day.
Wayne Carey, North Melbourne, AFL. Awarded for raising awareness of the sanctity of the family unit.
Andrew Johns, Newcastle Knights, NRL. Awarded for General Excellence and for promotion of the program, Stop, Revive, Survive at Toowoomba airport.
Hopoate exited the court abruptly and refused to answer the media’s question as to whether the jeans he wore to the hearing had been purchased at Lowes or Paddy’s Markets.