Morris closer to Bulldogs return: Hopoate

Will Hopoate says veteran Bulldogs fullback Brett Morris is recovering nicely from the knee injury which has seen him miss the entire season so far.

Hopoate made his return from a month-long sabbatical against the Sharks on Monday night and said the time spent on the sideline saw him spend plenty of time with the injured Morris.

A string of Sunday games saw Hopoate rule himself out of playing due to religious reasons, allowing him to gain further insight into Morris's recovery. 

"We have spent a bit time together over the past couple of weeks which has been good. He hasn't skipped a beat in skill-wise terms, his strength and things like that. So things are looking good for him," Hopoate told NRL.com.

"He had a run with us last week so things are looking very positive for B-Moz. You hate to see your teammates train without playing and he's been doing that for a few months now, so the sooner he gets back on the paddock the better for him and the team.

"Any team with Brett Morris in it is going to be better so we're looking forward to him coming back. The sooner, the better really for the club."

Hopoate has played 10 games at fullback in Morris's absence and said it was no secret he would enjoy the role permanently if ever the opportunity presented itself.

The Manly Cove junior even admitted his shock over how well he's performed in the role, having only played there six times in the past four seasons prior to this year.  

"The great thing about B-Moz – and it's my mentality as well – is what's best for the team must come first. I'd love to play and stay at the back but whatever Des [Hasler] sees fit goes," Hopoate said.

"I enjoy the centres too so there's no issue with me moving back there but I have been a bit surprised by how I've performed. The credit goes to the middle boys though, they really create a platform for me to take opportunities. 

"Their hard work helps us backs do our thing. So as much as it has been a surprise, it hasn't been completely new to me either because I've played there before too. But I'm thoroughly enjoying myself at the same time."

Hopoate also maintained he held zero regrets for his month off even if it came at the cost of him being hammered on the training paddock.

"That was the biggest challenge of it all – getting touched up by our trainers," Hopoate laughed.

"I needed it, as much as I didn't want it. But it was a good thing to have. It helped keep me in shape at least.

"I obviously wanted to play my part and I feel like I could've of course contributed especially when we lost to Canberra the other week. Though my faith is larger than footy to me though I'm just happy to be back playing now."

This article first appeared on NRL.com

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