For Dyldam Parramatta Eels Centre Will Hopoate, his surprise inclusion in the GIO City Origin side is also a trip down memory lane.
In 2011, Hopoate spring-boarded from the City Origin side to make his debut for the NSW Blues, and after two years out of the game, he’ll pull on the City jersey once again at Dubbo’s Apex Oval on Sunday afternoon.
It also means a reunion with some old Manly-Warringah team mates like Jorge Taufua, as they prepare for the clash under coach Brad Fittler.
“It was a shock [being named], but i’m humbled and grateful to pull on a City jersey again,” Hopoate said.
“It’s been good getting to know a few of the boys, and being coached under Freddy.”
“He’s very laid back but direct at the same time. He’s a legend of the game and I’m grateful to be around him.”
And with Sharks' forward Wade Graham ruled out through injury during the week, Hopoate will also line up to face the Country team alongside his Parramatta teammate Darcy Lussick, called up to replace Graham.
“I played with Luss all through the juniors at Manly, so to play with him now in the City team is very exciting,” Hopoate said.
“I’ve seen the team list [for Country] and there’s incredible talent in that team so we’re going to have to bring our A-game and be switched on to come away with the win.”
The 2014 AAMI Country v City match kicks off at 3.00pm on Sunday, May 4, at Apex Oval in Dubbo. Click through to buy tickets!