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Bulldogs centre Will Hopoate.

Departing Bulldogs centre Will Hopoate hasn't ruled out a future return to the NRL as he prepares for his final appearance in the blue and white on Sunday.

Hopoate will join English club St Helens on a two-year deal, ending a decade-long NRL career that has included a title with Manly in 2011 and representative honours with NSW and Tonga.

The 29-year-old will link with Tonga coach Kristian Woolf in the UK but as was the case when he undertook a two-year Mormon in 2012, he is keeping his options of playing in the NRL again open.

"You never say never … had you asked me when I played at Manly if I'd ever leave Manly I probably would've said the same thing," he said on Wednesday.

"Rugby league is a wonderful, interesting and different industry.

Hopoate steps past Dugan to score

"I'm open-minded if an opportunity comes back to play in the NRL then so be it, I guess time will tell.

"This was always on the agenda for me, to play Super League at some point.

"I've spoken to Luke Thompson quite a bit here and got his thoughts. He speaks highly of the competition.

"I'm going in with a blank canvas and a smile at the same time to soak it all up."

Let's tackle this together

Hopoate NRL's career began at the Sea Eagles in dominant fashion with the then 19-year-old part of Des Hasler's 2011 premiership-winning side.

He became the second-youngest NSW debutant behind Brad Fittler to play for the Blues in the same year, scoring a memorable try in Origin II.

Despite the Sea Eagles' best efforts to keep him following his mission, Hopoate had a two-year stint at Parramatta before joining the Bulldogs in 2016.

He made headlines in 2017 when it was revealed he had a clause in his contract that allowed him to miss Bulldogs games on a Sunday, as part of his faith.

He agreed to make himself available following a request from the club, something he is also willing to do at St Helens from next year.

"I've always said in interviews in the past that in a perfect world I would have that clause in there," he said.

"My faith means more to me than footy. I have no regrets over [the Mormon mission]. It's blessed my life in many different ways. I can't put it into words.

"The things I learnt from the experience have helped me a lot of ways off the field.

"If there was one thing I could share with young players coming through it's to not take things for granted because it does go quick."

Bulldogs centre Will Hopoate.
Bulldogs centre Will Hopoate. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Hopoate is among a dozen players set to farewell the club on Sunday after a year to forget for the squad under new coach Trent Barrett.

However, Hopoate was confident that with the new faces arriving at Belmore next season and the appointment of Phil Gould as general manager, the club would improve. 

"[The club] is on the up, you look at the signings that they have for next year and beyond the club is definitely in good hands," Hopoate said.

"Baz and the coaching staff here is good. They've got a young group of kids coming through.

"This season has been a tough one with where we are on the ladder. That's been the focus [this week], to send the departing players off with a win and finish the season a high note."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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