John Hopoate has re-enacted his moment of international infamy with a tasteless joke that's backfired badly and overshadowed a charity event.

Hopoate was controversially included in the Legends of League charity event staged at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on Saturday, despite still serving a 10-year suspension after he was found guilty of punching and verbally abusing an opposition player while competing in a Northern Beaches lower-grades competition.

The charity concept brought together some of the greatest names of the NRL, ARL and NSWRL, reports

Hopoate was allowed to participate in the charity day alongside former teammates Cliffy Lyons and Steve Menzies because the event was not sanctioned by the NSWRL board.


Event organisers would come to regret his involvement.

It has been more than 17 years since Hopoate made international headlines and was banned for 12 matches for sticking his finger up the bottoms of rival NRL players.

It clearly hasn't been long enough.

The 44-year-old was back at it — albeit in a light-hearted attempt to give the crowd some laughs — when he was spotted walking onto the field with his Manly teammates wearing a white rubber glove over his left hand.

He was also spotted showing off his accessory when warming the bench for the Sea Eagles team earlier in the day.

He eventually executed his prank during Manly's game against a Newcastle team — spotted pretending to stick his finger inside a player's bottom after a tackle was made.

The prank has been widely condemned by rugby league commentators.

Seven News branded the prank "grubby".


The Daily Telegraph's Phil Rothfield labelled it "repulsive".

Knights great Daniel Abraham, who played during the game against the Manly team on Saturday, told Channel 7: "It was just a joke.

"We were joking before the game and we were joking after the game."

Other commentators declared on social media that Hopoate has given the game yet another black eye.

It came just one day after Hopoate's Canterbury Bulldogs star son William Hopoate finally opened up on how the infamous "Hoppa" tackle clouded his childhood.

The 26-year-old Bulldogs star wrote in a story for the Players Voice that the scandal made life difficult for the entire family.

Will Hopoate says Wests Tigers teammates of his father insisted his decision to poke Glenn Morrison, Peter Jones and Paul Bowman was "supposed to be a prank to watch in team video sessions" but "ended up costing him his personal brand for life".

"It was a difficult time for our family," Hopoate wrote.

"I'd wake up to dozens of media people camped outside our home every day. I couldn't jump on my own trampoline on the front deck. The curtains were closed and, when we left the house, we were followed.

"The moment we walked outside, cameras started flashing, reporters would be shouting questions and the circus would begin.

"People driving by would stick their fingers up and dad, having a short temper, would chase them. Kids at school and opposing sporting teams would 'poke' fun at me. My family was all over TV and the back and front pages of the newspaper. It wasn't a great period.

"Dad was being portrayed like he was a murderer, which confused the heck out of me, because that was nothing like the man I saw at home day in, day out."

William Hopoate overcame the stigma attached to his surname to debut in the NRL in 2010 and has gone on to represent NSW and Tonga.

He credits his father for much of his success.

"Many fathers teach their children by example. They reinforce parental messages by showing their children what to do and demonstrating how to live their lives," he wrote.

"My dad took the opposite approach. He showed me exactly what not to do. John Hopoate was the crash test dummy of our family.

"I've asked dad why he played the way he did. He told me he was just naturally aggressive and wanted to dominate and intimidate his opposing player. I know he didn't intentionally go looking for controversy, so when penalties came up for misbehaviour, it did frustrate him.

"There's no straightforward answer to why we are such different personalities. It's confusing for many people, and sometimes even me. What I do know is that I wouldn't be who or where I am today without the help of dad.

"Has he made mistakes? Yes. Has he done dumb things? Sure has. Does he have a short temper? Absolutely. But you could say the same of a lot of people. They just don't have the profile of dad, so their mistakes don't draw the same level of attention."