He won’t don the blue and gold until 2014, but Manly coach Des Hasler
confirmed rising star Will Hopoate had played his final game for the Sea
Eagles ahead of his impending move to NRL rivals Parramatta.
NRL premiership celebrations hit a snag on Tuesday with revelations
Hopoate would join the Eels at the completion of his two-year Mormon
Eels officials could not be contacted to confirm the
two-year deal – rumoured to be worth up to $800,000 a season – but
Hasler admitted the Sea Eagles had missed out on retaining the
19-year-old utility back.
“It was a very tough decision for Will,” Hasler told reporters on Tuesday.
“But I know Will did what was best for him and his family.
“Will is a person of great conviction, shown by him leaving the game for two years to serve his Mormon mission.
“He is also a bloke of sincerity and we wish him every success in his two years out of the game and then at Parramatta.”
of Hopoate’s departure shocked Sea Eagles supporters, particularly
after he expressed excitement at the prospect of returning to the club
once he had finished his religious duties.
“That’s the plan, I
want to come back and play and now I know what this feels like it’ll be a
joy to have it again,” Hopoate said in the aftermath of Manly’s grand
final win on Sunday.
The son of former Test winger John Hopoate
was a star as he progressed through Manly’s junior system, and impressed
with his skill and composure when handed a shock NSW Origin jumper
earlier this year.
While the Eels won’t be able to utilise his
talents for another two seasons, his impending arrival will no doubt
have Parramatta fans salivating at the prospect of him linking up with
Jarryd Hayne and 2012 recruit Chris Sandow.