Manly seek quick NRL response on Hopoate

Manly have reportedly given the NRL two days to respond to the club’s submission about appointing controversial John Hopoate as SG Ball coach – or they will take the matter to the NSW Supreme Court.

The Sea Eagles wanted to appoint the former player to the under 18s role but the NRL opposed it on the grounds he wasn’t a fit and proper person to hold down the position.

Manly said it would prefer to have the matter settled out of court but would pursue legal action if it wasn’t resolved.

Club CEO Joe Kelly wrote that Manly would head to court to seek “injunctive and declarative relief” if his club’s latest correspondence concerning Hopoate wasn’t acted upon, Fairfax Media reported.

“In the absence of your response, it is our intention to file into the NSW Supreme Court for both injunctive and declarative relief within 48 hours without any further notice,” Kelly wrote.

Hopoate has a long record of indiscretions as a player and was also convicted and fined after pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm over a Sydney bashing in 2010. Hopoate had also been banned from The Star casino.

Detective inspector Wayne Walpole, a senior officer from the organised crime unit, expressed his concerns to the NRL that the 42-year-old former international was in a position of influence over young men.

Earlier on Thursday, NRL chairman John Grant hinted there might eventually be some room to move in the situation if Manly could present a rehabilitation plan for Hopoate.

Speaking at the NRL season launch, Grant stood firm against Hopoate continuing to coach Manly’s under-18s SG Ball team.

However, he dismissed suggestions Hopoate had been given a life ban.

“As I have said to Manly directly (the ban does not preclude) John getting back to the game but there has to be a plan,” Grant said. “We have made the decision and we have asked them for a plan. The ball is in their court.

“It’s up to them about how they want to take this forward. Rugby league has a great ability to be a redeemer. We have many, many examples of what are now great people of our game who had a very difficult journey.”

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