Hopoate outed for nine matches

Fiery Manly Sea Eagles winger John Hopate has been outed for nine matches by the National Rugby League judiciary after admitting to two counts of misconduct.

Hopoate was suspended for eight matches after last Sunday's game at Parramatta Stadium for making derogatory and threatening remarks to match officials. Hopoate was suspended for an additional week for fighting with Parramatta forward Craig Stapleton.

The verdict sidelines Hopoate until round 25.

A former Australia and Tonga international, Hopoate now has career suspensions totalling 28 weeks and is currently without a contract for next season.

The NRL judiciary heard that interchange official Darren Alchin had urged Hopoate to tone it down after the winger apparently hurled abuse at touch judge Steve Chiddy in the players' tunnel immediately after the Sea Eagles 52-12 loss.

Alchin was reported to say, "shut it Hoppa, just shut it" to which Hopoate allegedly replied, "Don't tell me to shut up, I'll knock you out, you faggot."

During the hearing, Hopoate was apologetic.

"I'm not here to shy away from what happened on Sunday," Hopoate said.

"I know what I did was wrong. I'm not hear to plead my innocence. I know I'm guilty. I sincerely apologise to the parties, to the two officials involved, to the panel.

"But I didn't have a clue that the person I made these remarks to was an official of the game."

Alchin said it was necessary to intervene when Hopoate allegedly taunted Chiddy with the remarks, "You're just a bloody touch judge, you are only a touchy.

"You guys are a disgrace. You two blokes had your usual top game."

With his career now in tatters, Hopoate was full of remorse while his counsel, Manly executive director Paul Cummings, made an extraordinary submission.

"I'd like to apologise to John for that and to the Manly club. I didn't understand these proceedings and we'll be better represented in the future," he said.

"We are not defending John's guilt and neither is John ... if this is the end of John's career, then so be it."

Parramatta's Craig Stapleton who contested his contrary conduct charge, was found not guilty for his part in the fight with John Hopoate.

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