MANLY coach Des Hasler will consider thrusting teenage fullback William Hopoate into the NRL spotlight against the Eels at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday.
William Hopoate in contention to play the Eels on Sunday. Picture: BRADEN FASTIER
Hasler was on Tuesday sweating on a final verdict on injured custodian Brett Stewart.
The 26-year-old had scans on his injured left knee on Tuesday afternoon and is expected to miss at least six weeks.
Stewart suffered the injury blow while courageously tackling Tigers winger Lote Tuqiri in the final minutes of Monday night’s 26-22 loss at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Winger David Williams (collarbone) is also gone for an extended period, possibly 10 weeks, after a pre-match training mishap at Brookvale Oval on Sunday night.
Late Tuesday, Hasler named the experienced Michael Robertson at fullback for the injured Stewart, with Tony Williams moving to the wing and Chris Bailey coming into the centres.
But the coach did admit the option of using the 17-year-old Hopoate is still worth considering.
“It’s a possibility,” Hasler told The Manly Daily of playing Hopoate before naming his team. “We’ll weigh it all up. He’s been training and is available.”
Young Hopoate played in Manly’s 20-12 Toyota Cup win over the Tigers on Monday night.
The Sea Eagles’ under-20s coach David Penna said the 90kg teenager is ready to play in the NRL.
“Will’s a tremendous young kid and he’s done all the hard work,” Penna said.
“I’m sure if Des picks him, he will do a good job for them, absolutely. He played well for us (on Monday) and played well in the trials.”
Robertson said he was also prepared for another spell at fullback. The Scottish flyer spent most of 2009 at fullback while Stewart was both suspended and injured.
“It’s something we’re going to have to deal with,” Robertson said. “I will do whatever Dessie wants.
“If he needs me to do that (play fullback) I’ll do it. Brett just can’t take a trick at the moment. To lose someone the calibre of Brett’s going to be a massive blow, but someone’s going to have to fill in.”
Sea Eagles pair Brent Kite and Kieran Foran will escape suspension after they were charged with grade one careless high tackles from the Tigers clash.
Hasler indicated the club may contest George Rose’s grade four careless high tackle charge. If Manly takes the early plea, Rose will miss Sunday’s match against Parramatta.