NRL star chooses faith over football

Canterbury Bulldogs centre Will Hopoate. Photo / Getty
Canterbury Bulldogs centre Will Hopoate. Photo / Getty

Will Hopoate has chosen faith over football, the Canterbury star opting not to train or play on Sundays.

Hopoate has made the move in accordance with his Mormon faith and is unsure if he will play in the grand final if the Bulldogs qualify.

The NSW three-quarter will sit out Sunday matches in rounds 10, 11 and 12 and the move has been ticked off by Bulldogs coach Des Hasler.

"This was another big draw card in me wanting to come to Canterbury," Hopoate told News Corp. "I understand that Des or the club could have said no without hesitation. But for him to understand and he's told me this, that he recognises this is what gets me going, what makes me happy, living my beliefs. I'm very grateful for that."

Hopoate sat out two seasons in 2012 and 2013 to fulfil his Mormon mission. He played two seasons with Parramatta before joining the Dogs this season.

"This is what makes Will so special," Hasler said. "His beliefs distinguish him.

This is what makes him tick. We are very proud to have such a person within our walls.

"To deny something that is so fundamental to a person is to deny that person the right to be who they are.

The Daily Telegraph reported that several Bulldogs players jokingly told Hasler they were going to convert to be Mormons to escape Sunday training sessions.

Hopoate said the move was made in accordance with the scriptures.

"A day set apart each week for rest and worship," he said.

"It's a holy day reserved for holy activities like attending church and studying the scriptures. Also, where possible, we abstain from work and recreation."

Bulldogs teammate David Klemmer said he was happy for Hopoate to miss football games to follow his faith.

"That is something he believes in and the club and him have worked together on that," Klemmer told Channel Nine's Sunday Footy Show.

"The club has backed him all the way and I'm happy to be in environment and with a club that stands behind him like that."

Also speaking on Channel Nine's Sunday Footy Show, Rugby league immortal Andrew Johns applauded the decision.

"Full credit to Hoppa," Johns told Channel Nine's Sunday Footy Show.

"It shows how strong his faith is, I stand and applaud. It shows what sort of person he is and what it means to him.

"The strength of the decision, it is amazing.

"He gave up the game for two years ... it is pretty cool when you think about it."

- AAP

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