Jordan Rapana has praised Will Hopoate’s decision to not play in Canterbury’s NRL elimination final on Sunday for religious reasons.
But the Canberra winger admits he has never considered doing it himself.
Hopoate, who is a Mormon, ruled himself out of the sudden-death clash with Penrith at Allianz Stadium.
It will be the fourth game this season the star fullback has missed because of his faith.
Rapana, who quit rugby league in 2009 to embark on a two-year Mormon mission, said Hopoate’s belief was strong.
“I commend him for being that staunch in his beliefs,” the Raiders winger said on Tuesday.
“Good on him.
“That’s entirely up to him and that’s what he wants to do.
“I’m sure the Bulldogs have some quality depth there, so I’m sure they’ll be fine (without him).”
Asked whether he had ever contemplated such a move, Rapana replied: “Nah”.
Fellow Mormon Sam Perrett, who deputised for Hopoate in his absence at fullback, revealed at the start of the season he was denied by the Bulldogs a request to also sit out matches on Sundays.
Perrett and Rapana grew up together on the Gold Coast, where they often shared mattresses in the Rapana family home.
Rapana was instrumental in getting the Raiders to second on the ladder this season.
He is the competition’s second-highest tryscorer (20) behind Melbourne’s Suliasi Vunivalu (22), and leads the tally for linebreaks (24) ahead of Brisbane’s Corey Oates (21).
His right-edge combination with centre Joey Leilua has been rated one of the NRL’s best, and Rapana hopes that will continue through the finals series.
Leilua’s `swivel-flick’ pass in Sunday’s final-round win over Wests Tigers handed Rapana his 20th try of 2016 and a highlight for years to come.
“I’ve been able to reap a few benefits outside him, so hopefully I can get a few more tries,” he said.