Former Australia player John Hopoate has been banned from the sport for 10 years after being found guilty of “very serious” charges arising from incidents during a minor-league match in July.
The 44-year-old faced several charges, including using offensive language and acting with aggression, after playing for Narraweena against Forestville.
He was penalised for a high tackle, then sent off for throwing a punch.
Hopoate was then accused of threatening his opponents using bad language.
The former NRL player told the New South Wales Rugby League disciplinary review panel he reacted after being racially abused by an opposition player.
Half of his ban has been suspended, which means Hopoate can return to the sport on 21 July 2023, when he will be 49.
This is not the first time Hopoate, who won two caps for the Kangaroos, has been punished for misdemeanours. He was:
- Banned for 12 matches for poking opponents’ backsides while at Wests Tigers in 2001.
- Banned for 17 games for a dangerous high hit on Cronulla’s Keith Galloway while playing for Manly-Warringah in 2005.
- Suspended for a total of 45 weeks during his NRL career.
Hopoate turned to boxing in 2005 after his Manly contract was terminated. He became Australian heavyweight champion in 2008 and fought former WBC champion Oliver McCall in 2009 for the International Boxing Association intercontinental title.