NRL bad boy John Hopoate has joined the Manly coaching staff ahead of the 2016 season.
Just weeks after the Sea Eagles controversially farewelled club great Geoff Toovey as head coach, the NRL club has called up one of rugby league’s most notorious players to its junior coaching staff.
Hopoate, the NRL’s most suspended player ever, will join new Manly mentor Trent Barrett’s staff in a development role as SG Ball (Under-18s) coach for next year.
“Hopoate will be our SG Ball coach in 2016,” a Manly official confirmed to AAP on Monday.
The decision to appoint Hopoate to a coaching role on the northern beaches is sure to raise eyebrows across the rugby league world given his chequered history.
The former Manly, Wests Tigers and Northern Eagles player courted controversy throughout a 13-year, 209-game first grade career, during which he represented Australia, NSW and Tonga.
The 41-year-old was finally outed from rugby league after he copped a 17-match ban for a tackle on Keith Galloway in 2005. That came after a 12-match ban in 2001 for poking opposition players up the backside.
All up Hopoate served 45 weeks on the sideline.
Last year Hopoate’s conduct was the subject of a Junior Manly Rugby League investigation after allegedly abusing the referee of an Under-10s fixture.