St Helens star worryingly limps off as Huddersfield Giants man forced into positional switch

Injuries have been the story of Will Hopoate’s season.

The versatile back joined St Helens at the start of the season as Kevin Naiqama’s replacement after the centre left the Totally Wicked Stadium with the 2021 Harry Sunderland Award after scoring twice in the Grand Final win over Catalans Dragons so Hopoate had big shoes to fill.

When fit, he has more than filled them though he has ended up playing very little at centre. That role has fallen to Konrad Hurrell with Hopoate starting the season on the wing due to Regan Grace’s injury.

Then Lewis Dodd’s injury which saw Jack Welsby move into the halves saw Hopoate move to fullback.

Yes, he hasn’t played much but when he has, he has shone. A good example would be the excellence he showed in the Magic Weekend win over Wigan Warriors and the fact St Helens didn’t lose a game when Hopoate played as the club won a record breaking fourth consecutive Grand Final.

Today, as Tonga met Samoa in the Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals at Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium, he made his first appearance since that Grand Final as he returned from injury.

After some nice touches, he has however had to limp off the field of play after a lovely kick return the Tongan fullback ended up limping and he ultimately had to limp off.

This forced halfback Tui Lolohea to move to fullback a role he had played all season at Huddersfield Giants but hasn’t played in the tournament for Tonga.

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