He might not be feeding 5000 people with loaves and fishes, but Will Hopoate can surely feed a few.
The in-form Canterbury fullback can afford to do so after winning at least half a dozen players’ player awards this year, despite recently sitting out three games due to his Mormon beliefs.
And the prize for a players’ gong?
“It’s about $400 voucher at a food place. He’s got a pretty big family but, so he’s got to feed a few,” teammate Josh Reynolds said on Wednesday.
Hopoate turned in yet another scintillating performance in the side’s heartbreaking loss to ladder leaders Cronulla on Monday in what was his first game in three weeks.
But the 24-year-old didn’t miss a beat, running for 191 metres and showcasing a burst of speed in the first half not seen since before he took a two-year sabbatical to be a missionary.
And Hopoate believes it’s his preference not to play on Sundays – as well as the club’s decision to allow him to do so – that has been the catalyst for what is arguably career-best form.
“You fix a player and his dramas off the field, then he performs well on the field,” Hopoate said.
“My faith is a big part of who I am and for the `Dogs to do that, I think it’s played a big part in how I’ve gone this season.
“I’ve always got things to improve on here and there, but I think change was a good thing for me and I’m enjoying my time under Des (Hasler) and being here at Canterbury.”
The former NSW star admitted his career hit a low during last year’s failed State of Origin series.
“They obviously weren’t the best (performances), that’s the honest truth. I’d love to make up for it. I didn’t play my best footy on the biggest stage,” he said.
But Hopoate has since climbed back into Origin contention, at least in the mind of Reynolds.
“He should be there, 100 per cent, going off his form and what he’s done,” Reynolds said.
“I know people will say the three weeks for what he had to do didn’t help his cause.
“But the writing’s on the wall – if you go in there and have a look at our players’ player sheet, he’s on about maybe six of them. And that’s a pretty special – they’re the ones you want to get as a player.”
The Bulldogs have no more Sunday games up until round 20, however the draw for the final six games of the regular season have yet to be determined.