gives Hopoate nine week ban

The career of controversial winger John Hopoate is hanging by a thread after he was suspended for nine matches by the National Rugby League judiciary this evening.

Hopoate is off contract at the end of the season and will not be eligible to play for Manly again until round 25 of the competition.

With his poor suspension record, inconsistent form and his current time away from the game, it is unlikely Manly will offer him a new contract with the club.

Hopoate?s judiciary appearance tonight was more like a move to save his career. He entered a guilty plea to charges of making derogatory and theatening remarks to a match official and apologised to everyone involved.

?I know what I did was wrong,? Hopoate told the hearing. ?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 (judiciary) panel.

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

The judiciary panel considered a 15-match suspension that was suggested by the prosecution, but instead opted for the lesser penalty of nine games, giving Hopoate the opportunity to impress Manly officials with at least two performances before the likely end of his controversial career.

Strangely, in a bizzare move, Hopoate?s counsel admitted that he wasn?t prepared to argue the case, claiming he felt inadequate.

"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 told the panel.

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

Manly have yet to confirm whether or not they plan to re-sign Hopoate, who appears proudly on the club?s official website main banner.