St Helens boss welcomes signing of 'class act' Will Hopoate
Saints' latest overseas signing Will Hopoate will bring a whole range of skills to the club next season, according to head coach Kristian Woolf - and he should know.
Woolf is also boss of the Tongan international side, which includes his new recruit, and said: ''Will has many strengths and is a class act. He is the ultimate professional and will bring versatility to our squad as he can play in a number of positions.''
The Ausie added: “Will is a guy I know extremely well. He has played for Tonga since 2016 and captained the team 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 and 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.
“He has the ability to play in the centres and has also made a name for himself at full back and so will be a great support to Jack Welsby. He has also played at six for Tonga as well so that quality is 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.”
Hopoate said: ''I am very happy and excited to be making the move to St Helens and to play for such a proud and historic club. I have never been to the UK before and I am excited to be a part of it all.
“I had options to sign for clubs in the NRL, but I have always wanted to play in the Super League and with a strong outfit like St Helens. I simply couldn't turn the offer down.
“I have been coached by ‘Woolfie’ before for Tonga and that was a big reason why I made the decision. I know him as a person and as a coach and his values and standards that he sets is 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 outfit and I am just grateful that they showed an interest in me and I am just happy to be a part of it next year.”
Prior to joining the Canterbury Bulldogs, Hopoate played 22 times for his hometown club Manly Sea Eagles before moving on to play 38 times for the Parramatta Eels. In total he has made 180 NRL appearances, scoring 45 tries.
Hopoate will join Saints ahead of the 2022 season on a two-year deal with an option to stay a further 12 months.