The Parramatta Eels have sacrificed one of their most promising juniors, refusing to deviate from their strong stance on player misbehaviour and sacking Will Hopoate's younger brother, Jamil.
Jamil, who last month was charged by police with drink-driving, had his contract terminated on Tuesday after disobeying club officials at an NRL rookie camp in Sydney.
Parramatta, Jamil's father, John, and his management last night refused to speculate on whether the Eels' decision to dump the 18-year-old lock would jeopardise Will's commitment to the club from 2014.
Fairfax Media was told Jamil Hopoate wanted to leave his digs to join friends in the city, but was asked by up to five officials to remain at the pre-season camp.
Hopoate, who made his Toyota Cup debut this year, ignored instructions and did not return until the next day. He missed breakfast and a number of formalities his fellow players attended that morning.
''Unfortunately Jamil has failed to respond to on-going support,
tutoring and mentoring from our dedicated coaching staff as well as our welfare and education department,'' Parramatta chief executive Ken Edwards said.
''While the club regrets losing such a talented player, the club has made it very clear that we expect high standards of behaviour across all grades. All who play for the Parramatta Eels need to understand that we are focused on and committed to recruiting players who put the team first.''
In November, Hopoate had his provisional driver's licence suspended for six months and was fined $500 for drink driving. The player, who returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.127, admitted to drinking 12 330ml bottles of Corona beer over three hours before he was stopped by police in Narraweena.
His Toyota Cup coach, Steve Speechley, said he was shocked by the news out of the rook camp and was adamant Hopoate's behaviour was out of character. ''He was a pleasure to coach,'' Speechley said. ''I never had any problems with him. It's such a shame because he's a kid with enormous potential.''
- Sydney Morning Herald
Who is your pick for international league player of the year?Related story: (See story)