Tonga international Will Hopoate says he is excited for the next chapter of his career after settling into life in St Helens.
The 29-year-old centre has been given the number three jersey for 2022 after penning a two-year deal with the club.
Hopoate has made almost 200 appearances in the NRL for Manly Sea Eagles, Parramatta Eels and Canterbury Bulldogs.
Speaking to The Saints Podcast, Hopoate said: “I’ve been here for around three weeks now. My wife, kids and myself have adjusted to the time difference now so it has been good.
“We are slowly getting around to different places. I’ve got four kids – aged five, four, three and one – they are adjusting to the cold. We hopped off the plane when we arrived here in England and one of my daughters was crying because it was too cold! We are slowly getting used to it so we are excited for the change.”
Luke Thompson praise
Hopoate revealed that he spoke to his former Canterbury team-mate Luke Thompson when Saints first showed their interest in him.
Thompson was a fan favourite during his time with Saints, making more than 150 appearances for the club. The England international prop made the move to the NRL with the Bulldogs in 2020.
Hopoate added: “He spoke very positively of the place when he got a whiff that there was interest from the club.
“He wasn’t trying to push me in any direction. He was just speaking of how good the club was and how good the staff were and how they got your body and mind right ready for the games and being in a winning environment, so that was good to hear from him.”
Brotherly love between Will Hopoate and Konrad Hurrell
Hopoate has won 11 caps for Tonga on the international stage. He played in the 2017 World Cup alongside Hurrell, who has also joined Saints ahead of 2022.
Hurrell has linked up with Kristian Woolf’s side on a one-year deal from Super League rivals Leeds.
Hopoate continued: “With us both being of Tongan heritage and playing a number of tests for Tonga, we have got a brotherly bond.
“It was good to come to a new team and a new country to come to a familiar face; not only a familiar face, but a funny one too.”
Challenge Cup newcomer
St Helens may have won the Challenge Cup in 2021, but it is a competition that is completely new to Hopoate. The former New South Wales representative will get his first taste of Super League and Challenge Cup next year.
He added: “I was asking more questions to friends who have played here before about the Challenge Cup and how it all works and how it fits into the season.
“I’m looking forward to being part of it and getting my mind and body right for the challenges and the games that happen more constantly throughout the season. I’m excited.”