Having been at the Canterbury Bulldogs for a number of years, a new challenge now awaits Will Hopoate. St Helens and the Super League.
Hopoate will join the successful English side on a three-year deal, the third year of which is an option year.
Bursting onto the scene as a youngster with the Manly Sea Eagles, Hopoate made his presence known to the rugby league world early.
With the game at his feet and a NSW Origin berth to boot, he made a decision to follow his faith and complete his Mormon mission.
He would join the Parramatta Eels upon his NRL return before joining the Bulldogs in 2016.
With 180 NRL games to his name, 45 tries and the ability to play centre, wing or fullback, his versatility will be an asset for St Helens.
When the opportunity came to join St Helens, it was one that Hopoate says he could not pass up.
“I am very happy and excited to be making the move to St Helens and to play for such a proud and historic club,” Hopoate said.
“I have never been to the UK before and I am excited to be a part of it all.
“I had the option to sign for clubs in the NRL, but I have always wanted to play in the Super League and a strong Club like St Helens meant I just couldn’t turn it down.”
What also helped Hopoate make a decision was having Kristian Woolf as coach, who he knows well from his time with Tonga.
“I have been coached by ‘Woolfie’ before for Tonga and that was a big reason why I made the decision,” Hopoate continued.
“I know him as a person and as a coach and his values and standards that he sets are something I want to buy into.
“The recent success the Saints have had and the history of the Club over the years shows it is a big and powerful club and I am just grateful that they showed in interest in me and I am just happy to be a part of it next year.”
Woolf reflected on his own memories of Hopoate during their time together with the Tongan side.
“Will is a guy I know extremely well,” Woolf said.
“He has played for Tonga since 2016 and captained Tonga in the past too which shows what a strong character he is.
“If I go back to 2019 and Tonga played against Great Britain and Australia, he was one of our best players against two top-quality teams on the world stage which gives you an idea of the quality we are getting.”
Woolf went on to praise Hopoate’s versatility as well as his value off the field in mentoring.
“He has the ability to play in the centres, but he has versatility too,” Woolf continued.
“He has made a name for himself at fullback and so will be a great support to Jack Welsby. He has also played at 6 for Tonga as well so that versatility and quality are going to be invaluable for us.
“From a personal point of view, he is not just a good player, but is a great bloke and will fit into the community and Club really well.”