Sonny Bill Williams has urged the NRL to allow John Hopoate to continue his coaching career.
The game’s governing body and the controversial rugby league figure appear on a collision course over Hopoate’s role as coach of Manly’s SG Ball side.
However, two-time premiership winner Williams believes Hopoate has paid for his previous indiscretions and should be allowed to mentor the NRL’s rising stars.
“Let the past be the past, Seems like ‘Hoppa’ wants to use it in a positive way and we need more islander coaches coming through the grades.” Williams wrote on Twitter.
Williams has turned around his public image since emerging as one of the NRL’s most reviled figures when he walked out on Canterbury in 2008.
His positive influence on younger players during his return to the NRL with Sydney Roosters in 2013 and 2014 is credited as a significant factor in the club’s 13th premiership success.
The NRL insist that Hopoate is not a “fit and proper person” to be heading up the Sea Eagles’ elite under-18 side.
But the most suspended player in the history of the NRL has vowed to fight any ban.
Hopoate has said he hasn’t been stood down from his coaching role with Manly, however he did not lead the Sea Eagles’ SG Ball side’s training session on Tuesday.
The former representative winger has vowed to take any sanction to the NSW Supreme Court, claiming it’s the NSWRL that has jurisdiction over the SG Ball competition not the NRL.
It is the NSWRL’s position that Hopoate has met the various criteria to qualify as a coach at a junior level.
The matter could come to a head when Manly host Canberra in the third round of the SG Ball competition at Brookvale Oval on Saturday.