St Helens coach Paul Wellens was full of praise for Will Hopoate following his man of the match performance in their win over Leeds Rhinos.
The Tonga international put in an impressive display to help Saints return to winning ways with a 22-18 victory over Leeds on Friday night.
Hopoate, making his 28th appearance in the Red V on Friday night, has struggled with injuries during his time with the Super League champions, but Wellens praised the experienced centre for delivering every time he’s taken to the field.
“When he came to the club we knew what we were getting in terms of a quality player,” Wellens told Sky Sports when asked about Hopoate.
“He was affected by injury and sometimes players drop their standards and become unfit when they get injured and they are responsible for it but that’s never been the case with Will.
“He’s had some really unlucky injuries, a recurring hamstring injury which he worked tirelessly on – it’s happened to him four or five times – so for him to keep his mind in in the place where it needed to be and to keep doing the hours and hours of rehab, it speaks volumes for his strength of character.
“As you’ve seen on the field today, his quality is there for all to see.”
‘It shows the character of our team’ – Will Hopoate hails St Helens win over Leeds
Saints were without nine first team squad members for the home game against Leeds, and Hopoate praised the depleted side’s character to get the win.
“Obviously it came to the wire and I think it shows the character of our team with a number of players out, to come away with a gutsy win like that is pleasing,” Hopoate told Sky Sports after the game.
“This game and the past couple of games has felt like finals rugby. I think it puts us in the good stead for the back end of the season when things really matter, so hopefully we can build on this.”
Hopoate was treated on the field to a hamstring during the game, but Hopoate said it was ‘all good’ afterwards.
He added: “(It’s) good, just getting old! It was a fatiguing game so it was just tightening up so I just needed it loosening up, so it’s all good.”