NSWRL and NRL to hold Hopoate peace talks

The NSWRL and NRL will come together to defuse their stand off over the appointment of controversial former player John Hopoate to a Manly junior coaching position.

The two parties are at odds over the NRL’s refusal to register Hopoate as the Sea Eagles under 18s coach for next season.

The NSWRL says the NRL is acting outside its jurisdiction because the state body controls the SG Ball competition.

While the NRL says all coaching officials must be okayed by the game’s headquarters.

The NSWRL was caught off guard by the NRL’s decision to knock back the 41-year-old and only became aware of it when they read newspaper reports last week.

There is no rush to finalise the issue given the under-16 competition does not begin until mid-February but NSWRL chief executive Dave Trodden says they will soon begin talks.

“I’m sure there will have to be discussions about it otherwise it won’t get resolved,” Trodden said.

The NSWRL says because Hopoate has the relevant NRL-issued level two coaching accreditation, he should be free to take up the position with the Sea Eagles.

They are also bemused at the timing given Hopoate has been coaching the Manly SG Ball squad for the last few months.

However the NRL is wary of the public backlash against the game in light of Hopoate’s checkered past.

He holds the ignominious record of being the most suspended player in NRL history. He spent 45 weeks on the sidelines, including an infamous incident in which he stuck his finger in the backsides of three North Queensland opposition players in 2001.

In 2011, he was fined $1000 and placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to assaulting a man outside a Kings Cross nightclub while working as a responsible services of alcohol officer.

Manly head coach Trent Barrett last week acknowledged while Hopoate had made mistakes, he praised him as a good person who had a lot to contribute to the club.

“He has a lot to offer as a coach; not a lot of people probably know the real John Hopoate,” Barrett told AAP.

“He is a very generous person, he is a very honest person and I know he does a terrific job with those kids.

“He is more than welcome at our football club.”

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