WILL Hopoate is a man on a quest to succeed in the Super League – after pausing his career for two years to complete a Mormon quest.
St Helens’ new Tongan star is the rising name in the NRL but at 19, God came first.
The prospect of great success – with the huge contract that comes with it – awaits him on the side of Aussie Manly.
But his higher calling meant he left rugby league to support his cause for the church, although thankfully he was knocking on doors and helping groups in Queensland.
“It’s an experience I’m so grateful I’ve had and it’s one I’ll never regret,” Hopoate said. It continues to help me today.
“It was tempting to stay and continue living my childhood dream, earning an income to support the family, but it was easier for me to make the first decision in life.
“We wake up at 6am – 6:30am and do a little exercise, then we will study until 10am. Then, from 10 a.m. to about 9 p.m., we would knock on doors and provide services, teaching and speaking to people on the street.
“It could be anywhere in the world. My brother served in the Philippines and a cousin went to Africa.”
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As a top athlete, Hopoate knew that carrying out his mission would be a vastly different way of living and of training.
But despite spending hours walking the streets trying to spread the message of the Mormons, he still exercises.
That means linking up with Parramatta in an agreement he signed before his two-year hiatus is not a case of starting from scratch.
He added: “You can’t be fit for the task like you’re playing rugby. You go out in the morning and exercise – whether it’s at the gym or running and doing a few exercises at the park.
“But skills and contacts are the things you miss. It’s really hard to match them and I just do what I can. ”
Hopoate will still practice his faith in the UK – he has found a church in St Helens – now that he has left Australia for the Super League, among friends.
Club boss Kristian Woolf is also the curator of Tonga and unmistakably the sights and sounds of his new teammate and fellow Checker Konrad Hurrell.
All that shows his time in this country has been a success as the Saints won a fourth straight title, before having a crack at the World Cup.
Hopoate, 29, told SunSport: “Everybody knows when Koni is at the training ground. It’s like everything gets louder the closer he gets – he has a big strand of hair too, so you can’t help but hear him and it’s hard to miss him!
“But it’s good to have a familiar face, it all helps, and being here before the World Cup can be great because I’m used to the times and the conditions.
“Our mindset is to go and win it, not just fabricated numbers.”
https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/17112929/st-helens-will-hopoate-mormon/ Will Hopoate gets a St Helens mission after taking a break from his career to do a Mormon mission