Canterbury’s Will Hopoate says he’s relishing the chance to showcase his attacking prowess in the No.1 jersey as he faces a stiff challenge to hold onto a NSW State of Origin spot.
Hopoate played one of his strongest games since his return from a Mormon mission two years ago in his `Dogs debut in their 28-6 mauling of Manly on Friday.
After an off-season switch from Parramatta, Hopoate was expecting to play at wing and centre this year but was handed the fullback jersey with Brett Morris set to miss the next four months after undergoing knee surgery.
Hopoate didn’t miss a beat though, scoring a try and looking damaging with ball in hand.
But he’ll need plenty more of that if he hopes to retain his Blues jumper after a disappointing showing during last year’s 2-1 Origin series loss to Queensland.
Hopoate played on the wing in all three matches with Josh Dugan – who played fullback – one of the Blues better players during that series.
Then there’s the likes of Sydney Roosters fullback Blake Ferguson, Brisbane star recruit James Roberts and Wests Tigers No.1 James Tedesco who didn’t play Origin in 2015 but are expected to push for Blues backline spots.
Still, Hopoate said he just wanted to play the best football he could for the `Dogs and let representative football take care of itself.
“Origin’s not at the forefront of my mind. I’m trying to play good footy for the Bulldogs and if representative honours come down the track then that’s a bonus,” Hopoate said.
“I love playing at the back. I’m comfortable there. I’m comfortable at centre as well but I’m thoroughly enjoying it at the back at the moment.”