John Hopoate will be watching on in the stands in Penrith as his eldest son Will takes the field for St Helens against the Panthers in the World Club Challenge on Saturday night.
Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Hopoate snr, revealed how Will’s career has been a huge inspiration for his 10 younger siblings, including Jamil, who hopes to watch the match from a prison cell.
Hopoate, now 49, detailed how Will’s presence on the field on Saturday will provide his jailed son with a timely boost, if he’s allowed to watch the game.
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Jamil Hopoate was arrested trying deliver eight kilograms of cocaine, and is up for parole in July next year.
Jamil had his spirits lifted when he spoke with Will last week, and was hoping to somehow tune into the St Helens’ match.
“I’ve always told my kids ‘I’m the crash-test dummy’, and what I’ve done is for you guys to see, so you don’t follow me,” ‘Hopoate snr told the publication. “They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and when it comes to my second son, Jamil, he fell in my lap. He’s in jail now.
“If he’s allowed to watch the game on Saturday, I know it will give him a boost. He would love to see his brother succeed. Will spoke to Jamil last Saturday … and even that was a boost for him. Hopefully he can turn his life around.
“Jamil was meant to play first grade at 18, but got locked up for a year. He came back, bided his time, now he’s in jail again. He’s out next July, which is a massive win for us because we were told he was looking at five to eight years.
“I still wanted him to get something, so it would teach him a lesson. But Will has lifted everyone from the start. All the boys wanted to be like Will. He played NRL at 18, Origin when he was 19, and his brothers have always aspired to be like him.”
Hopoate said if St Helens defeats Penrith it would go down as one of his proudest moments.
St Helens got off to a winning start on their trip Down Under with a 30-18 victory over the Dragons last Saturday.
Temperatures are predicted to hit 35 degrees around kick-off time at 6.50pm.
It’s the first time the Panthers will play a World Club Challenge match in Australia following previous failed attempts in the UK back in 1991 and 2004.
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