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Trimmed-down Hoppa excited for NRL return

Prized Parramatta recruit Will Hopoate hopes his new slimmer frame won't get tossed around too much when he makes his highly-anticipated return to the NRL.
Trimmed-down Hoppa excited for NRL return
by AAP

By Roje Adaimy

SYDNEY, March 3 AAP - Prized Parramatta recruit Will Hopoate hopes his new slimmer frame won't get tossed around too much when he makes his highly-anticipated return to the NRL.

The former Manly winger and NSW representative lost some of his size while completing his two-year Mormon mission, but has spent much of his pre-season rebuilding his body and regaining his strength.

"I came back a bit thinner than I was when I left (in 2011)," Hopoate said on Monday.

"I'm really trying to put on some good weight and bulk up a little bit.

"It's a physical competition so I don't want to be tossed around too much.

"I'm trying to work hard in the gym and getting the body right for the competition."

Hopoate showed some good early form in last month's trial against the Sea Eagles, his first outing in blue and gold, setting up a try from the centres just two minutes after coming on in the second half.

Hopes are high that the 21-year-old can lead an Eels revival in 2014, following back-to-back wooden spoons.

But Hopoate said he is far from being the struggling club's saviour.

"I wouldn't say I'm the saviour in any sense," he said.

"It's a team sport and it takes 17 players to walk away with two competition points each week.

"It's team effort, hopefully I can just be a part of it and play good consistent footy.

"(New coach Brad Arthur has) been very helpful with (handling the pressure), and the club, so I'm just hoping that I can show my gratitude by playing good footy."

Hopoate is slated to debut for the Eels in Sunday's season-opener against the Warriors - the same team he faced in his last NRL game, the 2011 grand final.

"It's always a physical game, every time I've played the Warriors, and I expect nothing less than that," he added.

"They're a quality side and so hopefully we can perform well and come away with the two points."

Arthur is tipped to play his key signing in the centres, moving him off the wing where he starred for Manly.

Hopoate said he was happy to play wherever Arthur wanted him.

"I enjoy centres ... I played there first, growing up, in the juniors," Hopoate said.

"So centre (or) wing, I'm not too fussed."


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