I need to get more involved: Hopoate
Blues flanker Will Hopoate is aiming to get more involved from the wing when NSW look to square the Holden State of Origin series at the MCG next Wednesday night.
The Eels centre is "grateful" coach Laurie Daley showed enough faith in him to retain him despite the return of Kangaroos winger Brett Morris, after Morris missed the opening 11-10 loss with a hamstring strain suffered early in the year.
"There are things I can do to improve; I didn't have the best game, I would like to improve... hopefully I can do that," Hopoate said ahead of the team's first field run on Wednesday.
"I think 'gratitude' is the word of the way I feel about being back in camp with the opportunity to play Game II. I am very grateful."
Hopoate was something of a surprise inclusion for Game 1, with the likes of Rabbitoh Alex Johnston, Raider Jack Wighton, Wests Tiger James Tedesco and Knights pair James McManus and Akuila Uate all experiencing varying levels of support in the lead up.
With Morris returning, many expected Hopoate to be the one to make way rather than Daniel Tupou, who has the advantage of being several inches taller and a weapon in the air, as well as having a club combination with left centre Michael Jennings.
However Tupou struggled in Game 1, producing a costly error and just 78 metres from nine runs. Hopoate's effort actually wasn't too bad given the match situation, his 14 runs and 100 metres both the best of any of the Blues' three-quarter players.
"Everyone knew [Brett Morris] was coming back into the team; he is an international player, he was playing some really great footy for the Dogs before his injury," Hopoate said.
"If I was out, so be it, but I am glad to be here.
"I do need to get more involved and help out the middle [forwards] there, they did such a great job for us [in Game 1] with all that tackling and making the hard yards. I want to try and help them."
Hopoate said he felt he stuck out on his wing too much in Game 1, "so I would like to hopefully get in there and take a few more runs and take some pressure off the middle."
Despite the first up loss Hopoate felt there was still great belief within himself and the team.
"It all starts with preparation and what we can do and that starts today [Wednesday]. I just want to play the best footy I can next Wednesday, I'm sure the boys are too. I can't wait for it."
Hopoate also declared his confidence in the fitness of hooker and Game I captain Robbie Farah, who is looking to make a remarkable comeback from a Grade 3 AC joint injury suffered in a Justin Hodges tackle in Origin I.
"He is fine, I don't think he would train or come into camp if he didn't think he could handle it," Hopoate said.
"The boys believe in 'Faz' and I'm sure he will do a great job for us next week."
He said there was no doubt the Maroons would look to test out Farah's injury recovery in the heat of battle next Wednesday.
"I don't think you can hide being in the middle, especially being a hooker so he may be a target but 'Faz' is a strong man, he is an inspiration for us and he will be fine," Hopoate said.
"We have moved on from that [Hodges] tackle and we will leave out actions to do the talking on the field next Wednesday night."