William Hopoate might be spending two years out of the NRL on a Mormon mission, but that has not stopped several clubs trying to sign him for the 2014 season.
It had been assumed that if Hopoate decided to resume his post-missionary football career it would be with his club, Manly. However, his manager, Tyran Smith, has revealed there has been “a lot of interest” from several clubs, although he has declined to name which clubs have made approaches.
It is understood the 19-year-old Hopoate will announce where his long-term football future lies before the end of the season. “I’m going through contract negotiations now,” said Smith, a former New Zealand international. “But, we aren’t rushing things. There’s been no need to rush things.”
Hopoate remains the hottest property in league despite his decision to put his career on hold and to follow the dictates of his religious belief. Before the centre revealed he was becoming a missionary he was offered a four-year deal worth $1.5 million as the Manly Sea Eagles, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, New Zealand Warriors, Parramatta Eels and St George Illawarra Dragons all scrambled for his signature.
Smith told the Herald he was not surprised by the amount of interest in the speedster, saying NRL club chief executives appreciated that Hopoate offered much more than a dynamic on-field presence.
“The clubs have made it clear they are after Will, the person,” Smith said. “He’s the kind of player they want to build their culture and playing roster around … anyone who speaks to him would realise Will is the kind of character rugby league wants.”