John Hopoate cops 10-year ban from NSWRL
Former Sea Eagles, Northern Eagles and Wests Tigers player John Hopoate has been banned for 10 years, with the final five years suspended, for three code of conduct charges following his send-off in a match last month while playing for Narraweena Hawks.
Hopoate, 44, appeared before the NSWRL Conduct Review Panel on Wednesday night and they determined the very serious nature of the charges warranted the lengthy suspension.
Hopoate, who was already serving a suspension after pleading guilty to a medium range striking offence from the same match in a Manly District Junior Rugby League competition on July 21, will not be eligible to play or have a role as an official in a rugby league match until at least July 21, 2023.
Between July 21, 2023 and July 20, 2028 he will be eligible to apply to the NSW Rugby League for a specific role in the game.
During the hearing, Hopoate tried to get media members removed but that request was denied.
He also claimed an opponent from Forestville made racially abused him.
"No one gets angry for no reason. I was called a f---ing black monkey and I didn't like it so I threatened to bash him and I'd do it again," he told the panel.
NSWRL CEO David Trodden said: "Every governing body has an obligation to the participants who play our game to ensure they can play in a safe and enjoyable environment.
"Incidents like these, which challenge that safe and enjoyable environment and damage the reputation of our sport, have no place in our game and must be dealt with appropriately to protect our game and the vast majority of participants who respect its rules."