Coach John Hopoate is set to sit out Manly’s SG Ball clash with Canberra at Brookvale Oval on Saturday, but that is unlikely to be the end of their dispute with the NRL over the controversial rugby league figure.
The spectre of the loss of competition points and a significant fine hangs over Manly if they do allow Hopoate to coach their elite under-18s side against the Raiders.
Hopoate’s assistant Darren Maroon has taken the side through their paces this week and he is likely to do the same in their round three match.
However that doesn’t indicate Manly have backed down on their stance, with the club understood to be continuing with their move to have the matter adjudicated in the Supreme Court.
Manly on Thursday gave the NRL 48 hours to respond to issues they have with Hopoate’s ban but at this stage that simply remains a deadline imposed by the Sea Eagles and one the game’s governing body is under no compunction to follow.
Plenty of media attention is expected at Brookvale Oval on Saturday, especially considering the NRL has taken a break this weekend before the start of the new season on Thursday.
ARL Commission chairman John Grant has extended an olive branch to the Sea Eagles, if they can come up with a rehabilitation plan for Hopoate, who is the most suspended player in NRL history.
However in the short term the NRL is unequivocal in their stance on the matter.
“Manly have been advised that Mr Hopoate has been stood down and as far as we are concerned the matter is closed,” an NRL spokesman told AAP.
If the matter does head to the Supreme Court, the judicial body could hand down an injunction that would allow Hopoate to continue to coach before the matter is heard.