When worlds collide

Queensland lost the second State of Origin match last night, and since I’m not satisfied with anything less than a foot firmly on the New South Wales Blues’ throat, there was only one highlight of the night, and this came in the post-match interviews when NSW debutant William Hopoate was interviewed about his more than adequate debut.

William Hopoate turned nineteen just a few days ago.  He was unexpectedly called into the Blues’ squad following their loss in the first game to become the second youngest player in New South Wales’ history.  He’s the son of the infamous John Hopoate, a name synonymous with callous niggle on the football field, finger-poking opponents’ colons and random acts of thuggery.  William is nothing like his dad.

He has only played fifteen top flight games for the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles but already it’s clear he could become the game of rugby league’s next superstar.  Shifted around the Manly backline to cover injuries he has handled every assignment with aplomb, he can soar to defuse bombs, can scatter opposition tacklers on his way to the try line and always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

It was no surprise then that he handled his debut in the toughest cauldron of oval balled sports last night, not only playing out of position, but also miraculously squeezing the ball into the in-goal area for the go-ahead score that NSW refused to surrender for the rest of the night.

Naturally in the post-game frenzy, as NSW celebrated their first win in six matches over two years, Hopoate was sought after for the television interviews.  And so it was that the microphone was thrust under his nose by Andrew Johns. 

Andrew Johns is the poster boy for rugby league hedonism, the controversial addition to rugby league’s Team of the Century on account of his chequered off-field reputation.  His drug addiction was an open secret during his playing days, long before he confirmed it in retirement.  His name is synonymous with racial vilification, a string of failed relationships and in recent years he attracted grubby headlines about his friendships with brothel owners who would provide him with free services in exchange for inside information about injuries and team tactics.  All the better to bet intelligently with you see.

Johns is the one who lived the life afforded the rugby league rock star, and has the grubby legacy to match.  And what was his first question to the young Hoppa?

Sweeping his hand across a sell-out stadium of 82,000 seething with adulation for the new 19-year-old Adonis, Johns says, “Surely all of this makes you change your mind?”

You see, in between taking the rugby league world by storm young William Hopoate has also announced he is going to turn his back on all the dollars, glamour and adulation of the NRL to embark on a two-year mission sabbatical with his Mormon Church. 

So Hoppa looked at Johns and said something that amounted to “Nah mate, none of this really matters”.  Cue a close-up camera shot of Andrew Johns having a WTF moment. 

It was the ultimate collision of two very different world views.  On the one hand the man who had been given everything only to use it to make a hash of his drug-addled life, feigning complete bemusement that his junior interviewee should be entirely comfortable with his decision to not chase after the baubles of adulation and materialism so he could follow his convictions. 

The pity of it all is that rugby league, a sport blighted by bad press and poor player discipline, is still populated by types who think Johns is the hero and Hoppa the weirdo.   Give me Hopoate’s self-effacing humility any day.


2 Responses to When worlds collide

  1. HG31 says:

    I like it!!! Our world has developed such a skewed sense of values, it is frightening. How come Ch.9 chooses all the no-hopers for their commentary team? Johns, Fittler, Gould…etc, etc.

  2. MUM SAYS says:

    Well said, it needed to be! Top class 19 year old who knows what is important in life. Great stuff.

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