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"I have been training all week with the Turbos and preparing to play for the log o' wood, as I wanted to play for it," Hemopo said after Manwatu's 37-20 loss to Otago last night.
Hemopo has missed out on a place in the World Cup, squeezed out of the lock and loose forwards positions.
"I was waiting and hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. At the same time, there is a lot of talent in New Zealand and someone has to miss out."
Hemopo is to play in Japan and will not be back for the Highlanders next year. He was hampered by a shoulder injury and would look to get that right before he joined the Mitsubishi side. He may not be sighted for Manawatu for much longer as he concentrates on getting fully fit.
Hemopo made his debut at first-class level for Otago at Forsyth Barr Stadium in 2012, scoring with virtually his first touch of the ball.
"I loved the opportunity to play against the other Mitre 10 Cup team I played for in the place which has become my second home."
Hemopo said Manawatu had given the shield a good crack and he could not fault the effort.
Otago captain Michael Collins said he was stoked the side stood strong last night.
"It probably came across as pretty scrappy, especially that first half, but you look at every team that is going to come down here, they are going to bring a bit of niggle and physicality because everyone is up for it," he said.
"For us that is one we really felt we earned. It is a tough one as we want to play an expansive game... But I'm really proud how the boys stuck at it and believed in ourselves and believed in our structure, and in the final 20 minutes it paid off."
Collins got through his first full game for more than four months after a niggling groin injury.
No8 Dylan Nel left the field after a blow to his hip while winger Henry Purdy did not start at all because of a shoulder injury.