Kristian Woolf working hard to “bulletproof” Will Hopoate as their World Cup campaign starts

Kristian Woolf and his Tongan medical staff are working hard to ensure Will Hopoate is fit for their opening game against Papua New Guinea

Hopoate had a disrupted first season at St Helens in which he missed large chunks of the season but was able to play for St Helens in their Grand Final win against Leeds Rhinos

After the final it appeared Hopoate wasn’t fully fit and faced a race against time to be match ready for Tonga’s opening World Cup game.

He missed their warm up game against France as Tonga ran away 38-12 winners and is still pushing to be available for his nations opening fixture.

His Head Coach Kristian Woolf knows all about Hopoate’s struggles this season as his club coach but believes the utility back will be ready to go come Tuesdays game.

“He’s had a disrupted year,” Woolf expressed. “We’ve come up with a plan with different physios and different medical staff and they’ve worked really closer with the St Helens guys and were trying to come up with a plan we all think can bulletproof him.

“This would obviously be beneficial for Tonga first as he is such a class player to have available for the big games and if we can get that right that will flow on to St Helens next year as well.”

Even after leaving the club it appears Woolf wants to make sure he keeps Hopoate fit throughout the tournament so he can have a proper pre-season with St Helens and put together a better string of games in 2023.

As for Hopoate himself, he will be looking to make a statement in this World Cup as one of Tonga’s key players from 2017. With an exciting squad featuring world class players such as Jason Taumalolo and David Fifita, The Tongans definitely have the talent which could take them a couple of steps better than 2017 and becoming World champions.

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