2015 has kicked off positively for Dyldam Parramatta Eels Will Hopoate.
We caught up with the talented footballer to discuss changes he has made during pre-season training, the upcoming NRL season, the 2015 Auckland Nines and his recent selection to the NRL All Stars Game.
“It’s very humbling,” Hopoate said.
"It definitely came by surprise but I am grateful to be called and I’m looking forward to the big game."
The 2015 pre-season has seen Hopoate train at fullback, along with new recruit Reece Robinson, and Hopoate has been keen to regain his form for a possible stint in the number one jersey for the Blue and Gold.
“That is something I wanted to improve on, and the coaches as well. They have worked me hard in the gym, but in saying that, there is always room for improvement so I will just try and build from here,” Hopoate said.
“I played fullback pretty much all of my junior league career so it is definitely not something completely new, but there are definitely new roles and responsibilities to that of a centre-wing.”
“I am still adjusting and still learning on how I can be better to improve and hopefully my efforts benefit the team.”
And whilst size has been part of Hopoate’s focus in the preseason, the potential fullback has been working hard on being more vocal at training, a skill he knows will benefit the team when the going gets tough.
“I think talk is a big part of being a fullback. Directing the boys, especially in defence around the park so there is definitely a bit of intention in trying to be louder and more vocal.”
“If you practice it at training, it rolls off into the game, which is why im trying to speak as much as I can especially under fatigue so I can roll it off in games.”
With his maturity, Hopoate looks to be growing into a future leader at the Eels, but for the mean time, the 22-year-old is focused on being a good teammate to his close knit Eels squad.
“I think because the squad is very young and I am starting to mature a little, but I still look up to the senior boys and those who have had more experience than myself,” Hopoate said.
“I just see myself as a teammate and hopefully a good teammate rather than a bad one,” he added.
In 2014, Hopoate’s form earned him a recall to NSW for the second State of Origin game, however the talented footballer has remained humble and his focus is not on higher representative honours, but rather the Blue and Gold.
“I am not looking that far ahead at the moment (Origin selection). I am just trying to get the body right, and my mind right, and help Parramatta first and foremost,” Hopoate said.
“Whatever rolls off the back of that will be a bonus and I’ll grab it with two hands.”
And with the 2015 Auckland Nines just around the corner, Hopoate is hoping to be named in the Eels squad to travel to the two day, nine-a-side tournament.
“Everybody last year said it was a great buzz and it was a great weekend so I would love to be named and have a run over there."
"It is good it is unlimited interchange so one hit up, one tackle then a rest for me will do,” Hopoate joked.
The tournament will see shortened games, wider gaps on the field and plenty more action and Hopoate gave an insight into who he believes will be the Eels match winners during the two day extravaganza.
“Little Chris Sandow, I think that is his type of game. Reece Robinson, Semi, all the guys with speed so keep an eye out for them!” he said.