‘ADHD makes me do crazy things,’ says John Hopoate

FORMER rugby league bad boy John Hopoate has revealed he has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and blames the condition for years of "d..khead actions" during this career.

The disgraced former Manly and West Tigers winger told The Daily Telegraph he was diagnosed with the condition two weeks ago, after being arrested for allegedly driving tipper trucks three times on a suspended licence.

He is due to appear at a sentencing hearing on Thursday at Manly Local Court, after his case was adjourned last year so he could be assessed mentally assessed, said Hopoate, 45.

"I've never been an angel, I've been a d..khead on the pitch and sometimes off it; I'm not afraid to stand up for myself, it's been the story of my life," Hopoate said.


Former NRL player John Hopoate in the boxing ring. Picture: Christian Gilles
Former NRL player John Hopoate in the boxing ring. Picture: Christian Gilles

"But it now makes sense; ADHD makes me do crazy things - I drove those trucks because I didn't think of the consequences of jumping into the car when I was banned from driving. It's dumb, I know."

He also blamed the condition for misbehaviour during his 13-year NRL career that was overshadowed by a record 45 weeks of suspension and for bouts of binge drinking.

"I wish I'd known years ago I that had it, I could have got treated instead of messing up time and time again," he said.

"There's no support within the NRL, they teach you how not to get into drugs, how to avoid fights, drugs, alcohol and women - but they don't know how to spot signs of ADHD, they just thought I was the bad boy of NRL and banned and suspended me every time I messed up.

"All they care about is putting bums on seats and selling tickets. Once it's over, you're left hung out to dry."

A spokesman for the NRL said Hopoate had not been part of the NRL for 14 years.

"He has never approached us for assistance with mental health issues," the spokesman said.

"If he had sought assistance it would have been provided."


John and Brenda Hopoate
John and Brenda Hopoate

Hopoate said he was now on medication and seeing a psychologist to better deal with his diagnosis.

Documents tendered to court in December show police charged him after he was seen driving a Daihatsu truck without a seatbelt in Frenchs Forest on September 6. On November 1, he was charged with driving while his licence was suspended after allegedly being seen at the wheel of a ute at Beacon Hill. And on November 27 he was again caught driving the Daihatsu truck in Frenchs Forest.

Hopoate said he now earned around $2,200-a-fortnight working as a labourer - a far cry from the $5,800-a-week he netted playing for Manly.

"I'm not blaming ADHD for driving while suspended but I have 12 mouths to feed including me and my wife and I need to put food on the table.


Hopoate with John Ibrahim.
Hopoate with John Ibrahim.


"It's a dumb ass thing to do, I know, but I have to look after my family, all but one of my kids still live at home."

Hopoate's inglorious career ended in 2005 after he was suspended for a total of 17 matches the NRL judiciary and sacked by Manly for striking Cronulla forward Keith Galloway.

He played for both NSW and Australia throughout his 13-year, 209-game NRL career.

He was most famously banned for 12 games for poking opponents up the backside during tackles while playing for Wests Tigers in 2001.

He was also convicted and fined after pleading guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm over an incident in Sydney's Kings Cross in 2010.

In 2016 he was fined $1500 and placed on an 18-month good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to assaulting a landlord of a supermarket in Crow's Nest with whom he ran a deli.

He turned to professional boxing and became a bouncer and security guard for former Kings Cross nightclub owner John Ibrahim.

He is currently training for a boxing match against Cronulla star Paul Gallen.

Former Manly star John Hopoate outside court.
Former Manly star John Hopoate outside court.