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Tough controversial Tongan born winger John Hopoate is a Manly junior who made the first grade ranks with Manly in 1993. In the seven seasons from 1993 to 1999 he scored 62 tries for Manly.
'Hoppa' played 1 state of origin match for NSW and two tests for Australia in 1995
He was unwanted by the Northern Eagles joint venture in 2000 and went to the other new joint venture Wests Tigers. His problems there have been well documented and he was sacked for his digital activities. Manly offered him a lifeline late in the 2001 season and he quickly made the Northern Eagles first grade team scoring 3 tries at the back end of the season.
He was one of the first players to sign with the Manly run club for 2002 after the Northern Eagles joint venture collapsed. In 2002 he had his best season ever doing a mountain of work in attack and defence and won the respect of Manly fans through his new attitude and hard work.
In 2003 he had another huge year until injured. At the time he was injured Hoppa was breaking records in metres gained in hit-ups and was sorely missed by Manly late in the season. He was unlucky not to gain State of Origin selection.
But controversy continued to plague Hoppa in 2004 when he was given a lengthy suspension for abusing a touch judge. He vowed to stay out of trouble in 2005 but in round one against the Warriors in Auckland he swore at a ball boy and round two against the Sharks at Brookvale he was sent off for a soaring head high mis-timed shoulder charge on young Sharks forward Keith Galloway.
The judiciary suspended him for 17 weeks but this became irelevant as Manly ended his career by sacking him in terms of his contract. But Hoppa did not demonstrate any bitterness, he accepted that Manly had no choice in the circumstances and left the game with dignity. He apologised to Keith Galloway and posted a message on the internet thanking Manly fans and expressing his love for and continuing support of the Manly club.
Farewell Hoppa, we'll miss you on the field but will welcome you to Brookie with open arms to cheer on the mighty Sea Eagles.
A MESSAGE TO MANLY FANS FROM JOHN HOPOATE
MARCH 23, 2005 (posted on mightyeagles.com)
With my career now over, on behalf of my family I want to thank the supporters of the Manly Sea Eagles for their support during my career with the greatest club in the world.
I bear no bitterness towards the club for terminating my contract - they had no choice to do what they did.
I knew before I went to the judiciary that my career was over but I was still given the best of legal advice through Alan Sullivan QC and my coach Des Hasler who gave me great support.
The Manly club were fantastic in supporting me.
I want to make it clear that I don't want to go to England to play and I don't want to play with any other club.
My career is over and I have come to terms with that. My life now will revolve around my beautiful wife Brenda and my eight children.
I have asked for this space to be made available so I can - on behalf of my mother Mele and my family - thank Manly fans for the kind messages during the many turbulent times in my career.
I promise I never tried to maim Keith Galloway. It was simply a shoulder charge gone wrong. In a split second I messed it up and I thank God he isn't badly injured.
People are predicting I will play again. I won't - if I can't play with the club I love then I won't play.
I left once and that was enough. I may have had other colours on for a while but my heart was always with Manly. I have played for Manly for NSW and for Australia and I'm proud of that.
Please don't feel sorry for me. I am now prepared for retirement with a clear mind and proud that I will always be welcome at the Manly club.
I would also like to thank my team mates who have been with me through the good and bad times. My best wishes go to Manly for what I know will be a successful season... I'll be at Brookie cheeering them on. My one wish left in my football career was to do a lap of honour after my final game with my children. That now can't happen but not everything in life ends the way you want it.
Hoppa with "Groggo" and Beaver