Canterbury fullback Will Hopoate is willing to pay the price for his decision to choose his faith over footy – even if that includes his NSW jumper.
Hopoate’s position in the Blues line up is under fire as he prepares to miss two key NRL clashes over the next three weeks in the crucial period before the State of Origin teams are picked because of his Mormon faith.
Hopoate admits his spot in Laurie Daley’s lineup is in jeopardy but won’t be bitter if he is overlooked because of his religion.
“When I made this decision and was in negotiations with the club, (representative football) didn’t really cross my mind at all at the time,” Hopoate said.
“I understand it jeopardises my opportunities to play rep footy and I’ll happily pay the consequences.
“My faith comes before footy and if that’s the price I’ve got to pay, then so be it.”
Hopoate has chosen to sit out all of the side’s Sunday matches this year, and will miss round 10 against the Wests Tigers and round 11 against Sydney Roosters, meaning he won’t play in the fortnight before Daley names his team for Origin I.
Hopoate has rebounded to some of his career-best form under Des Hasler at Belmore since his off-season switch from Parramatta, scoring six times and setting up another four tries in the first eight rounds.
But NSW skipper Paul Gallen has said he expects Hopoate to struggle to hold his position, and the likes of Blake Ferguson, Josh Dugan and Michael Jennings – all named in the Australian squad on Tuesday – and in-form Tigers No.1 James Tedesco are all in the mix.
“I pray a lot and one thing I’m constantly grateful for is to be living my dream playing with Canterbury, as a kid it was my dream to be playing in the NRL,” Hopoate said.
“I have that opportunity ever week, so if I’m ungrateful for things that happen beyond that, it’s pretty selfish of myself.”