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Hoppa has dream Origin debut

Joe Barton 15/06/2011 11:41:40 PM Comments (0)

In an arena where NSW haven't enjoyed much success since 2005, it took a rookie with just 15 NRL games experience to give them the belief they could win.

After toiling away for nearly 50 minutes, but inevitably running into a Queensland brick wall of defence, Blues halfback Mitchell Pearce floated a ball out wide and found the arms of 19-year-old Will Hopoate who was playing his State of Origin debut.

In a move that NSW great Brad Fittler described as "freakish", the Manly star ignored the defences of Billy Slater and Jharal Yow Yeh to miraculously plant the ball millimetres from the sideline.

His piece of sensational athleticism gave the Blues the lead for the first time, and they never let it go - hanging on for a memorable 18-8 win that has forced a decider at Suncorp Stadium.

"It was freakish, incredible," Fittler told AAP.

"He stepped up easily to this level, his runs early in the game were outstanding and then he nailed that try by beating Billy Slater who is possibly the best defensive fullback I've ever seen.

"It was definitely a match-turning moment."

Hopoate, who will leave the NRL at the end of the season to complete a two-year Mormon mission, downplayed his role in the try and preferred instead to heap praise on Pearce.

"I think the credit goes to Mitchell Pearce, he threw a great ball," Hopoate said.

"He doesn't throw that and we don't score, so thanks to Pearcey.

"It's definitely exciting, it's a moment I'll never forget especially with the win as well ... it makes it that much more special."

Despite leaving the field after 60 minutes with a hamstring injury, Hopoate was delighted with the experience.

"It was an unbelievable experience," he said.

"Origin mentality, the speed, the physicality of the game, it was everything they said it was going to be."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

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