Hoppa to get 18 weeks!

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First Grader
By Dean Ritchie
March 22, 2005

MANLY winger John Hopoate has finally been cornered and is now facing expulsion from rugby league.

Trouble ... Sea Eagles' John Hopoate / AAP file
The Daily Telegraph understands Hopoate is facing a massive 18-match suspension from the NRL judiciary tonight and also the sack from his club.

The revelations cap another explosive day involving the controversial Sea Eagles winger.

But either way, Hopoate is unlikely to be seen on the football field again this season, perhaps forever.

A high-powered meeting among Manly officials yesterday discussed firing Hopoate from the final year of his contract at Brookvale.

The Manly board will hold an emergency meeting this morning to discuss Hopoate's impending sacking.

A lawyer will be present at the meeting to ensure the club acts within its legal requirements.

It is understood the club has agreed in principle to sack Hopoate but under legal advice did not act last night.

He could however be sacked tonight - immediately after the judiciary hearing.

But should Hopoate somehow survive the cut at Manly, the NRL is sure to rub out the former NSW and Australian winger for most of this season at the judiciary.

The Daily Telegraph understands Hopoate is facing an 18-match suspension - the same penalty Melbourne's Danny Williams received last year for king-hitting Wests Tigers forward Mark O'Neill.

Talkback radio, rugby league websites and callers to The Daily Telegraph were yesterday united - Hopoate must be kicked out of league.

The drama continued yesterday after Hopoate's latest indiscretion - powering his forearm into the head of Cronulla forward Keith Galloway during Sunday's match at Brookvale Oval.

Galloway was released from Kareena Private Hospital yesterday after undergoing brain scans and neurological tests.

Yesterday, the NRL Match Review Committee decided against grading Hopoate's charge - instead referring him directly to the judiciary.

The NRL last night announced the judiciary hearing would - at Manly's request - be held tonight rather than the traditional Wednesday night.

Hopoate, Manly coach Des Hasler, executive director Paul Cummings and football manager Peter Peters met with Alan Sullivan, QC, yesterday to discuss the case. Sullivan will represent Hopoate.

Video of the tackle actually shows Hopoate running up to 35 metres in-field to collect Galloway.

Hopoate spoke to Galloway after the game and rang the Sharks forward again yesterday to apologise. Galloway accepted the apology.

Cummings preferred not to comment last night.

Former Test forward and NRL board member Gorden Tallis had words of encouragement yesterday for Hopoate.

"I honestly don't think Hopoate went in with his elbow cocked to take Galloway out," Tallis wrote in Brisbane's Courier Mail.

"It was basically a badly timed, clumsily executed attempt at a shoulder charge; it was ugly; it gave the game a black eye it didn't need and, yes, it deserved a send-off but, as for a deliberate attempt to maim an opponent, I just don't think so."

Manly went to elaborate lengths to hide Hopoate from the media yesterday and slapped a media ban on their players from speaking about the troubled winger.

Meanwhile, New Zealand Warriors forward Ruben Wiki could face a six week ban after being charged with a grade three careless high tackle during his team's win over Brisbane on Sunday.

Three St George Illawarra players have been charged following their heavy loss to Melbourne at the weekend.

Centre Albert Torrens is charged with a grade two careless high tackle, hooker Michael Ennis was charged with a grade one careless high tackle and prop Ashton Sims with grade one contrary conduct.

Melbourne forward Alex Chan is on a grade two striking charge from the same match. Cronulla's Greg Bird and Parramatta's Mark Riddell face a grade one dangerous throw charge.

The Daily Telegraph

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