Controversial rugby league identity John Hopoate has revealed that the NRL asked him to complete a coaching course despite being banned from the game.
The 42-year-old was on the sidelines for the side’s season-opening 42-18 loss to Newcastle last weekend, much to the chagrin of the NRL, who immediately hauled club officials to league central and threatened them with a $30,000 fine and a loss of competition points.
The former Manly and Wests Tigers player was refused registration by the NRL last year after he wasn’t deemed a fit and proper person to be involved in the game, accusations that Hopoate hit back at via social media.
“The NRL handpick me to do a high performance course in Nov so I can coach 1st grade yet turn around and say you can’t coach,” he wrote on Facebook.
“It’s alright for them to take the $400 off me to pay for the course but now it’s not ok for me to coach.
“It’s like giving me a driver’s licence and then saying ‘sorry you can’t drive’.”
The governing body consider Hopoate unfit to be involved in any official capacity with the game after receiving intelligence from NSW police detective Wayne Wolpole on the former player being linked to organised crime figures.
It’s an association that has already resulted in him already being prohibited from The Star casino in Sydney, a stance that Hopoate also took exception to.
“Never go to the casino and yet get barred. Tried to ask why when I don’t go there and they said ‘don’t have to tell you why’,” Hopoate posted.
“Looks like they just pull your name out of a hat … what a load of crap especially when you never go to the place.”
Despite Hopoate’s protests, the Sea Eagles are still expected to stand him down from any official capacity as the start of the NRL season begins in a fortnight.
“No matter what coaching qualifications there are, if you’re not fit and proper, then we can’t register (him),” said an NRL spokesperson.
“We received advice from the organised crime squad and that makes it very difficult. That’s information we can’t ignore when determining whether to register him.”