John Hopoate is looking at a lengthy suspension. Picture: Stephen Cooper
John Hopoate is looking at a lengthy suspension. Picture: Stephen Cooper

Hoppa set to learn fate over sideline threats

RUGBY league bad boy John Hopoate is set to learn the length of his ban on Thursday following charges stemming from a fight in a Manly A-Grade fixture last month.

Hopoate will front the NSW Rugby League judiciary on Wednesday night having already pleaded guilty to three counts of contrary conduct while filling in for the Narraweena Hawks on July 21.

The length of his suspension will be announced on Thursday morning, with a one-year ban likely.

The charges include one count of contrary conduct for offensive language and another for acting with aggression, after the former Manly and Wests Tigers star was already given a four-match ban for striking.

Any suspension would extend across all involvement in the sport and therefore prohibit him from acting as a coach or trainer at any junior or senior rugby league match.

A life ban is not expected.

Hopoate, 44, lasted just minutes in his first game of the season for the Hawks when he filled in off the bench against the Forestville Ferrets.

Left: John Hopoate threatens an opponent after punching him in a confrontation (right).
Left: John Hopoate threatens an opponent after punching him in a confrontation (right).

After he was initially penalised for a high tackle, a fight ensured on the following play-the-ball after the Ferrets kicked for touch.

Hopoate was sent off as a result for landing a punch, before Fox Sports released footage of him threatening the opposition lock in an expletive-laced tirade.

The opposing player was also sin-binned for his role in the incident, which including throwing the ball at Hawks players.

Hopoate played for NSW and Australia in his 209-game NRL career, but also spent a record 45 weeks on the sideline suspended.

His most famous indiscretion came when he was banned for 12 matches for poking opponents' backsides while at the Tigers in 2001, and his NRL career was ended with a 17-game ban for a dangerous high hit on Cronulla's Keith Galloway while at Manly in 2006.

Those incidents won't play any part in this week's suspension, but he has a prior record in the Manly A-Grade competition which includes being marched for throwing a punch while playing for Manly Cove in 2011.

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