Dyldam Parramatta Eels centre Will Hopoate says he’s excited that Round 1 against the New Zealand Warriors has arrived and can’t wait to get some more football under his belt for 2014.
‘Hoppa’ is expected to be named at centre by Head Coach Brad Arthur tomorrow, playing his first premiership NRL game since 2011, when he left the game to spend time as a missionary.
“I feel the years went very quickly - I feel like I just said goodbye to family and friends and then time flew and I’m here again,” Hopoate said.
“It’s definitely exciting; Brad’s set to name his 17 and there’s a good feeling around the club; the boys are anxious to get some footy under the belt.”
Will says the time away from the game has helped him mature, and he feels more prepared to take on the long season.
“I feel the way [it’s helped] mentally, and I’m mentally stronger, and I feel more hungry to play and excited as well,” he said.
“The saying you don’t know how much you love something until it’s gone, in a similar way I feel like that.”
Hopoate will be scrutinised from all fans of rugby league this Sunday at Pirtek Stadium, with everyone eager to see his skill level after being back for four months.
“I’ve definitely improved since being back in November, and there’s still more improvement to come, and I’m looking forward to playing this week wherever it may be, and really enjoy footy.”
After playing in the second half of our trial game against the Sea Eagles a fortnight ago, Hoppa says it was good to get a test of where he’s at physically, and compare to other players in the NRL.
“I felt a lot of the boys have got a bit stronger and faster, so there’s definitely room for improvement on my behalf, and I definitely appreciate the help from the coaching staff in striving to help me become stronger and faster,” he said.
Watch the full video with Will Hopoate above!