Hopoate bids farewell to NRL, for now

·2-min read

Will Hopoate will line up for his final NRL game on Sunday, but the Canterbury and Tonga star isn't ruling out a return to the competition.

The 29-year-old's appearance against Wests Tigers will be his 184th in the NRL, eleven years after his debut as a teenage prodigy at Manly.

Hopoate will head to St Helens in the English Super League after six years at the Bulldogs and five State of Origins for NSW.

But he's not certain this will be the end despite a disappointing season at the Bulldogs seeing him take up a two-year deal in Europe.

"Never say never," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"Had you asked me when I was playing at Manly I probably would've said the same thing.

"You look at the past, present and guys will tend to finish up over there but look, I'm open-minded.

"If an opportunity comes to come back to the NRL, so be it. If not, so be it as well."

Just four players will run out for their last NRL game this weekend before either retiring or taking up a deal in England, in one of the shortest exiting parties in memory.

Several other Bulldogs are yet to decide their futures - including the likes of Dylan Napa, Sione Katoa and Lachlan Lewis - who were among the 10 players told this week they won't be offered new deals under new general manager of football Phil Gould.

Hopoate will link up with Tonga coach Kristian Woolf at St Helens, while he has also liaised with teammate Luke Thompson over the speed, contact and standard of competition.

The devout Mormon is approaching his stint as a blank canvas but does hope a clause of not playing on Sunday's due to his faith will be upheld.

The Bulldogs will hope to send Hopoate off on a high, as the former premiership-winning centre has registered just two wins this year when playing.

PLAYERS RUNNING OUT FOR LAST NRL GAME IN ROUND 25

Will Hopoate - Bulldogs (St Helens)

Brodie Croft - Broncos (Salford)

Alex Glenn - Broncos (retirement)

Kaide Ellis - Dragons (Wigan)

* Excludes players set to feature in finals.

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