The NRL Round 19 teams are in, and it’s the St George-Illawarra Dragons featuring heavily again with the return of captain Gareth Widdop.
Former rugby league bad boy John Hopoate has landed himself in hot water again, sent off in a park football match for punching.
Hopoate, whose NRL career was filled with drama, is expected to be charged by the NSW Rugby League over the incident which occurred while playing for Narraweena against Forestville in Manly’s A-Grade competition on Saturday.
Playing in his first game of the season, Hopoate lasted just minutes before he was sent from the field for throwing a punch in his side’s 26-24 win.
After coming off the bench, Hopoate was penalised for a high tackle in his first involvement, and a scuffle ensued.
Following that, Hopoate was sent off for making contact with a punch, before he was involved in another verbal altercation off the field.
Another player was also sin-binned for throwing the ball at a Narraweena player in the altercation.
“We are confident the judiciary committee will deal with the issue appropriately,” a spokeswoman for the NSW Rugby League told AAP.
Hopoate has previous charges in the A-Grade competition, including attracting headlines in 2011 when he was also sent off for a punch during a fight while playing for Manly Cove.
Hopoate has since admitted to Fox Sports he acted like an “idiot” in Saturday’s match.
“I carried on like an idiot and got sent off, that’s it … It’s the story of my life,” Hopoate said.
“I said I’d bash him on the field but what’s wrong with that?”
The 44-year-old played for both NSW and Australia throughout his 13-year, 209-game NRL career for Manly and the Wests Tigers, however that was largely overshadowed by an NRL record 45 weeks of suspensions.
He was most famously banned for 12 games for poking opponents up the backside during tackles while playing at the Tigers in 2001.
His career was ended in 2004 while playing for Manly after getting a 17-match suspension for a high kamikaze-style tackle on Cronulla opponent Keith Galloway.
He was also convicted and fined after pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm over an incident in Sydney’s Kings Cross in 2010.