From Club Footy to Origin: J’maine Hopgood Ready to Answer Queensland Call

From Club Footy to Origin: J'maine Hopgood Ready to Answer Queensland Call

J’maine Hopgood’s journey to State of Origin selection is nothing short of inspiring. The 25-year-old Gooreng Gooreng man, named to Billy Slater’s Queensland squad for the upcoming series opener, admits it’s “been a long journey” from the brink of quitting rugby league in his teens. From Club Footy to Origin: J’maine Hopgood Ready to Answer Queensland Call

Impressing with Parramatta since his 2022 move, Hopgood spent two earlier seasons with limited opportunities at Penrith. The anxious wait for the selection call paid off, leaving him “in a bit of shock” and fulfilling a “dream come true.”

Hopgood’s rise from Hervey Bay fringe player to Origin hopeful is remarkable. He candidly shared, “I was running through the story to Billy (Slater) on the way here. 15 years old, dropped out of school, started my apprenticeship and just playing club footy for Caloundra.”

“I wasn’t even going to play that club footy,” he continued. “Just being here…dream come true.”

The significance of representing his heritage isn’t lost on Hopgood. He recalls Matt Bowen’s iconic 2005 golden-point intercept as “one of the bigger moments for me growing up.”

“It’s very special (to represent my mob),” he said. Fresh off NRL Indigenous Round, Hopgood cherishes the support of his family, particularly his grandfather who presented him with a special Parramatta jersey.

This isn’t Hopgood’s first taste of the Maroons environment. He participated in the extended squad for last year’s game three, providing valuable experience. “It just makes you feel a bit more comfortable,” he acknowledges. “I already know most of the boys…that’s the biggest thing for the week, a sense of inclusion already.”

J’maine Hopgood is a testament to perseverance and the power of pursuing dreams. He prepares to take the field next week, ready to add his name to the esteemed list of Indigenous stars who’ve donned the mighty Maroon jersey.

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