Will Hopoate the new centre of attention at St Helens

Saints have signed some world class centres - many from overseas - since Super League was launched in 1996 and also before the sport switched to the summer months .

Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 7:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th December 2021, 7:58 am
Will Hopoate

Mighty Mal Meninga started the ball rolling when he moved to Knowsley Road ahead of the 1984-85 trophy-winning winter season and was later superseded by the likes of Paul Newlove, Willie Talua, Matt Gidley, Jamie Lyon and more recently Kevin Naiqama. who returned home at the end of the 2021 campaign and has since been recruited by the Sydney Roosters.

Now the onus is on Tongan international Will Hopoate to step into their boots and help Saints, among other things, to a record-breaking fourth successive Grand Final victory.

Hopoate said: ''Those players will be a hard act to follow and all I can do is be a version of myself and be fully committed to what is already a winning environment when you look at all the trophies and photographs adorning the stadium.

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''Mal and Jamie, in particular, were high calibre players and I was lucky enough to play alongside Killer at Manly.

''I have always looked up to him and if I achieve half of what he did as a rugby player, I will be more than happy.''

The 29-year-old added: "I have always wanted to come over here and play in Super League but at first didn't know where I would be heading.

''I spoke to Luke Thompson who had moved from St Helens to the Bulldogs and while he didn't try to cajole me into signing he only had positive things to say about his old club.''

Hopoate, who can also play full-back, has scored 45 tries in 180 NRL appearances in a career that has also included spells at hometown Manly Sea Eagles and Parramatta Eels.

He has signed a two-year deal at the Totally Wicked Stadium with an option of an extra 12 months and by then will, hopefully, have a few pieces of silverware is safety tucked under his belt.