Will Hopoate is hoping to remain injury free in 2023 as the centre looks to extend his stay with St Helens beyond the upcoming campaign.
The 30-year-old enters the final season of his two-year contract at the Totally Wicked Stadium, with the club holding the option to trigger a third.
He endured a season like no other in his career last year, hit by injuries that limited him to just 12 appearances in his debut campaign in England with a reoccurring hamstring injury.
The Tonga international was re-injured once more during the World Cup campaign against Samoa in the quarter-finals in Warrington.
He has since been working with St Helens’ head physio, and is hoping that the off-season will allow him to fully recover ahead of the new Super League season.
“It’s been a bit different for me,” Hopoate said on pre-season.
“I’ve spent most of my time in rehab. Time is probably the ultimate healer and it’s been a good amount of time since I’ve played.
“I want to get it right”
“Throughout the season, there’s always a game you’re aiming to be back towards. But in the off-season you have a good amount of time to focus on yourself and to get it right and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.
“The whole year personally was a tough one with the amount of injuries I had. I’ve been pretty lucky throughout my career before then.
“As much as a challenge as it was, injuries are a part of the sport. Hopefully this year I’m on the pitch more than I’m off it. I want to get it right and get 100% then to play good, consistent rugby.”
Hopoate is hoping to be fit for the club’s trip to Australia in February, facing St George Illawarra Dragons before the World Club Challenge against Penrith Panthers.
“I should be good to play the Dragons over in Australia,” Hopoate told Love Rugby League. “We’ll see how things go against them then hopefully I’m up for selection for the World Club Challenge.
“I’ve played Penrith not too long ago. They’re a great team with a great amount of talent and it should be a good contest.
“I’ve been spending a lot of one-on-one time with the physio. So the first goal is to get this right and then get back onto the pitch.”
Will Hopoate on current contract situation
Hopoate is hoping to extend his stay with St Helens, who made history in 2022 by becoming the first-ever Super League side to win four successive Grand Finals.
“This is my final year on my current contract. The only thing I can really do to cement a future contract is to play good footy,” Hopoate said.
“Hopefully, injuries are kind to me this year and I can stay on the pitch.
“I’d love to (stay here). Why would anybody want to leave a successful environment? The club itself, the people behind the scenes have been great for not only me, but my wife and children and obviously a big part of who I am is their wellbeing and happiness and the club has been very helpful.”
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