MARCH 28, 201611:40AM
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Hopoate won't play Sundays
The Daily Telegraph
CANTERBURY Bulldogs star Will Hopoate will not play or train on Sundays because of his staunch devotion to his Mormon faith - a move backed by his coach, teammates and commentators.
The Sunday Telegraph yesterday revealed Hopoate will sit out three straight Sunday games in rounds 10, 11 and 12 against the Wests Tigers, Roosters and Canberra Raiders and is unsure whether he will play in the grand final if the Bulldogs go through to the decider.
The NSW State of Origin star has the full backing of coach Des Hasler and his teammates, whom he informed of his decision at a team meeting at Belmore this week.
The response from Bulldogs fans has been mixed but those within the game appear at ease with Hopoate’s decision.
Bulldogs teammate David Klemmer said he had no issue with Hopoate missing games to stay true to 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.”
Rugby league immortal Andrew Johns said Hopoate deserved everyone’s respect.
“Full credit to Hoppa, it shows how strong his faith is (and) I stand and applaud. It shows what sort of person he is and what it means to him,” Johns told Channel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show.
Bulldog Will Hopoate told coach Des Hasler of his decision late last year. Picture: Gregg PorteousSource:News Corp Australia
“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.”
Hopoate has revealed he told Hasler of how his commitment and loyalty to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints would stop him from playing Sundays when the pair were negotiating his contract at the Bulldogs late last year.
Hasler kept it a secret until his fullback had the opportunity to explain it to the players. Only chief executive Raelene Castle, his manager Tyrone Smith and Hopoate’s family knew.
“This was another big draw card in me wanting to come to Canterbury,” Hopoate told the Sunday Telegraph.
“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.”
NRL star Will Hopoate enjoys the Sans Souci shore with his wife Jimicina.Source:News Corp Australia
Hasler said the Bulldogs would always stand by Hopoate and his beliefs.
“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.”
Hopoate quit rugby league in 2012 for two years, turning his back on $1 million in contract earnings to embark on his religious mission.
He returned to the Parramatta Eels before joining the Bulldogs at the beginning of the season.
As for playing in a grand final if the Bulldogs make it to the October long weekend, it is something Hopoate will discuss with Hasler at the time.
Bulldog Will Hopoate takes on the defence in round three. Picture: Gregg PorteousSource:News Corp Australia
The 23-year-old said he chose not to play on Sundays because of the church’s belief that Sunday is the Lord’s day.
“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.”
Hopoate added he made the decision late last year with his wife and family.
He is hoping Bulldogs supporters accept his decision.
Originally published as Teammates, immortals back Hoppa’s Sunday rest