John Hopoate at the NSWRL judiciary hearing on Wednesday evening at Olympic Park, having already pleaded guilty to three counts of contrary conduct while playing for the Narraweena Hawks. Picture: David Swift.
John Hopoate at the NSWRL judiciary hearing on Wednesday evening at Olympic Park, having already pleaded guilty to three counts of contrary conduct while playing for the Narraweena Hawks. Picture: David Swift.

Hopoate rubbed out for a decade over park footy violence

JOHN Hopoate will not be able to play, coach or act as an official unless he gains a special clearance for the next 10 years, after the NSW Rugby League judiciary rubbed him out over ugly scenes at a Manly A-grade game last month.

Fox Sports released exclusive footage of Hopoate throwing a coward punch and making violent threats towards a Forestville Ferrets player, after running out for the Narraweena Hawks for the first time this season.

The 44-year-old was originally handed a four-game suspension for on-field violence including a left jab thrown from behind a teammate, but on Wednesday evening his punishment ballooned to a 10-year ban (five of which will be suspended) after he pleaded guilty to facts which included striking a player, threatening an opponent after being sent off and abusing officials.

Under the facts read out to Hopoate, it was claimed he threatened to "smash" an opposition trainer, told a Forestville official to "f*** off" and said to an opposing player while standing behind the bench: "You're dead, I'm going to smash you, you dog."

In July, when Hopoate was informed that the video would be published, he said he "acted like an idiot".

"It was heat of the moment. It's footy it happens on the field and that's it," he offered to foxsports.com.au.

"I carried on like an idiot and got sent off that's it. I carried on like an idiot, who cares, it's the story of my life.

"I said I'd bash him on the field but what's wrong with that?"

At the hearing on Wednesday, Hopoate claimed he had been the victim of a vile racial slur in the lead up to the fight, which prompted the violent act. There was no mention of a racial slur in his interview with Fox Sports, nor did he report it to match officials.

When asked why, he replied because he "wasn't a bitch".

"I was too angry to say it because all I wanted to do was slap the guy who was being a smart arse," he added.

"It's unacceptable (behaviour) but are we going to let these people get away with racism?

NSWRL chief executive David Trodden said it was important the matter was dealt with.

"Incidents like these, which challenge that safe and enjoyable environment and damage the reputation of our sport, have no place in our game and must be dealt with appropriately to protect our game and the vast majority of participants who respect its rules," he said.



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