Sean Hoppe the face of BRL
BUNDABERG Rugby League (BRL) has undergone a facelift this year in an attempt to re-kindle the footy spirit in a town that once lived and breathed the game.
Former New Zealand international captain Sean Hoppe is the face of the BRL's fresh approach this season, taking up an assistant coaching role while also beginning training to receive a level-one referee accreditation.
Hoppe, who played for English club St Helens until 2002, will man the side line as a touch judge in a curtain-raiser to Saturday night's double-header season opener at Across The Waves sports ground.
“I am here for good now, I think it was the weather that convinced me to stay, plus the fact I was getting lazy so I was keen to get involved in the game again, I've really enjoyed the refereeing training so far, the fitness really surprised me,” Hoppe said.
As for the coaching side of things, it took a bit more convincing to jump on board.
“(Under-18 Brothers coach) Dean Akers came knocking on my door with a box of sweet potatoes as a bribe, but I've really enjoyed helping their training so far and I'm excited to see them play,” he said.
The Kiwi recruit said he was likely to give refereeing a good crack, “provided he didn't get too many eggs thrown at him,” and league officials hope he will be a drawcard for the new format which kicks off this Saturday afternoon.
“Our slogan this year is 'Saturday night footy under lights', we're hoping the night timeslot will be more practical for families and those who work weekends, because it gives all the players the Sunday off, and the chance for juniors to take centre stage on Sunday,” Breen said.
The immaculate Across The Waves fields play host venue until Salter Oval is available, and a crowd of around 1000 is expected to fill the stadium.
Breen predicted teams from Isis and Hervey Bay would challenge the usually dominant Bundaberg sides this season.
Under-18 curtain raiser at 2.15pm
Easts v Across the Waves 4.50pm
Brothers v Hervey Bay 7pm