Hasler backs Hopoate to cope with Origin
Manly coach Des Hasler is backing Will Hopoate to hold his own in the NSW centres, despite having played in the position twice for the Sea Eagles.
The 19-year-old was the shock inclusion in Ricky Stuart’s Blues squad for the second State of Origin clash next week after just 15 first grade appearances, replacing Michael Jennings who was ruled out with an ankle injury.
Hopoate has played most of this season on the wing as well as filling in at fullback and left centre and Hasler believes this versatility is a huge plus for the youngest player to play for the Blues since Brad Fittler in 1990.
“He was called up for the City-Country game so they had him earmarked and because through circumstances he gets his opportunity and he will do a great job,” said Hasler on Tuesday.
“I think it is great that a player can play a number of positions, and he has done a great job in all three positions.
“I don’t think it matters that he has only played two games at centre, they get well prepared and he will get briefed and will have plenty of good players around him and it is about enjoying the moment and handling the situation.”
Despite Hopoate’s tender years, Hasler has no doubt he possesses the temperament to cope with the pressure cooker situation that is Origin.
“For such a young kid nothing seems to faze him and there is a lot of experience around him in the side,” he said.
“I had a quick chat with him and he knows what it is all about, he is very excited about it and it is a great to see that in a young player.
“But he doesn’t need any words of advice from me, he will be OK.”© AAP 2013