|Full name||William Hopoate|
|Born||9 May 1992|
Manly, New South Wales, Australia
|Height||186 cm (6 ft 1 in)|
|Weight||98 kg (15 st 6 lb)|
|Position||Centre, Fullback, Wing|
As of 4 June 2021
William Hopoate (born 9 May 1992), also known as Viliami in Tongan, also known by the nickname of "Hoppa", is a Tonga international rugby league footballer who plays as a centre, fullback and on the wing for the St Helens in the ESL.
He played for the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, Parramatta Eels and Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs in the National Rugby League. Hopoate has also played for New South Wales City and New South Wales in the State of Origin series.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
He joined Manly's squads in 2009 at the age of 16 and played the entire year in the Sea Eagles Toyota Cup. He primarily played at fullback but also played on the wing and in the centres. Despite a season-ending injury to Manly 1st-grade fullback Brett Stewart in Round 1 of the 2010 NRL season, Hopoate had to wait until Round 13 to make his debut as coach Des Hasler preferred to use Ben Farrar in the custodian role.
Hopoate is the son of former Manly player John Hopoate, though other than his physical size, speed, strength and general play, he has shown none of the "bad boy" habits which saw his father often on the sidelines through suspension. Hopoate also represented the Australian Schoolboys team.
In Round 3 of the 2011 NRL season, Hopoate scored his first ever double against the Newcastle Knights at Brookvale Oval. Hopoate was part of the Manly side that defeated the New Zealand Warriors in the 2011 NRL Grand Final where he was denied the opening try but did produce a flick pass that sent Glenn Stewart over the line for a crucial try in the second half.
In October 2011, Hopoate signed a 2-year contract with the Parramatta Eels starting in 2014, after his Mormon mission ended. In April 2015, he agreed to re-sign with the Eels on a 3-year contract, however due to legal complications, the contract wasn't registered and Hopoate was left a free agent. In 2016, Hopoate took The Parramatta Eels to court and was seeking $1.83 million in damages. On 29 October 2016, both parties came to an agreement of a $400,000 settlement.
On 7 December 2015, Hopoate signed a 2-year contract with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs starting in 2016. In his first season with Canterbury, Hopoate announced that he would not be playing for the club on Sundays due to his religious faith. Hopoate even went as far to say that he would not play for Canterbury in the grand final if the club was to make it that far as the final is on a Sunday. Hopoate missed Canterbury's qualifying final against Penrith due to the game being played on Sunday.
On 14 May 2017, Hopoate reversed his decision and declared that he would be playing Sunday games again for Canterbury. On 1 June 2017, Hopoate re-signed with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs for a further three years until 2020. On 27 November 2019, Hopoate signed a two-year contract extension to remain at Canterbury until the end of the 2021 season.
On 10 August 2021, Hopoate signed a two-year deal with English side St Helens RFC with the option of a third season. Hopoate made a total of 24 appearances for Canterbury in the 2021 NRL season as the club finished last and claimed the Wooden Spoon.
On 5 June 2011 Hopoate was selected to play State of Origin for New South Wales in Game 2 against Queensland at ANZ Stadium. He is the second youngest player behind Brad Fittler ever selected to play for NSW and he scored a try on debut helping NSW level the 3-game series at one all with an 18–8 win.
In 2017 Hopoate elected to represent the nation of his ancestral heritage, Tonga. He played fullback in every game of their stunning charge to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-finals. He was a tryscorer in their shock win over New Zealand in the pool stage of the tournament.
He was named at fullback again for the historic first-ever Test match between Tonga and the Australian Kangaroos on 20 October 2018, played in front of a sold-out crowd at Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland.
Outside of rugby league, Hopoate is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As such Hopoate chose not to take part in his early league career and spent 2012 and 2013 serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).
- Media, NRL Digital. "Will Hopoate".
- "William Hopoate - Career Stats & Summary". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Lane, Daniel (22 June 2011). "Battle of Will: clubs all want a piece of Hoppa, says agent". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- "Hoppa Jr signs $300k contract". Fox League. 18 June 2008. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
- James Phelps (23 August 2008). "Schoolboys take it to the world". Herald Sun. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
- "Hi I'm William Hopoate". Mormon.org.uk. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- "Will Hopoate signs with Parramatta Eels | NRL". Zero Tackle. 4 October 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- "Hopoate set to extend stay with Parramatta | NRL". Zero Tackle. 18 April 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- "Parramatta offer Hopoate 'unders' to stay | NRL". Zero Tackle. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Proszenko, Adrian; Hall, Louise (31 March 2016). "Canterbury Bulldogs star Will Hopoate seeking $1.83 million from Parramatta Eels" – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
- Nicolussi, Christian (14 March 2016). "Hopoate's Parramatta battle moves to the field". Daily Telegraph.
- "Bulldogs sign Will Hopoate | NRL". Zero Tackle. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Webster, Andrew (5 September 2016). "Will Hopoate's absence for the Canterbury Bulldogs on Sundays isn't about religion – it's about football" – via The Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Hopoate set to choose God over grand final". ABC News. 30 March 2016.
- "Will Hopoate agrees to play Sundays for Bulldogs". ABC News. 15 May 2017.
- "Bulldogs make seventh re-signing, Storm gun locked in". Fox Sports. 29 November 2019.
- "Dogs confirm EIGHT-man clean-out in first glimpse of Barrett era". www.foxsports.com.au. 22 September 2020.
- "St Helens clinch signing of Tonga World Cup captain for 2022 Super League season". www.skysports.com.
- "Canterbury Bulldogs set to sign Rabbitohs star Braidon Burns, Storm prop Max King for 2022 NRL season". wwos.nine.com.au.
- "St Helens beat Catalans in fiery season opener – talking points". www.loverugbyleague.com. 10 February 2022.
- "Tonga stun New Zealand to top Pool B". 11 November 2017.
- "Kangaroos withstand spirited Tongan challenge". 20 October 2018.
- "Young star leaving NRL for a mission for the church of Jesus of latter day saints". The New Zealand Herald. Newstalk ZB. 13 May 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2011.