The Roar
The Roar


SundayGate through the eyes of a Mormon

William Hopoate has decided he won't play NRL on Sundays due to religious reasons. Is that OK? (Digital Image by Grant Trouville ©
Roar Guru
4th April, 2016
2855 Reads

If you look at a calendar, it’ll show Sunday is the first day of the week. In the ancient times, Sunday was used to start a week, not finish it.

Nowadays, Sunday is the dreaded last day of your weekend before the week officially starts.

What else is Sunday useful for?

With all the media attention from the NRL this past week, Sunday has also emerged as a hot topic of discussion for league fans.

Bulldogs star Will Hopoate has declared he will not participate in games and training sessions held on Sundays due to religious reasons.

This has been a huge topic of discussion in regards to his loyalty to the club, his teammates, and what exactly it achieves.

Personally, I have seen the scrutiny, and feel like a voice of reason is due. Let’s discuss the decision, through the eyes of a Mormon.

A Mormon is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is a Christian-based religion which was started in Salt Lake City, Utah.

While some churches celebrate their day of religion on various days, as Mormons, we worship on Sundays. In our words, and many other religions also, it is considered the Sabbath Day.


The Sabbath Day is set aside to rest from all activities and daily regimes to spend time worshipping at a local church service and resting before the week starts the next day.

It is used to symbolise the creation of the Earth, which is why Sunday is recognised as a rest day.

We believe that activities which may be pursued any other day of the week are not suitable for a Sunday.

Exactly what activities you may ask?

It can vary from shopping, eating out, media activities and sport.

It is highly documented that, at the age of 18, a young man is asked to serve a 2-year full-time proselyting mission, in which they will go to preach the word of God.

The nature of the NRL would be a very scrutinising ordeal. Mormons do not partake in alcohol, drugs or smoking, nor do we even drink tea or coffee – Milo is a big seller for us.

With all of the temptation and money in the NRL, it takes a strong man to stay faithful to a spouse or religion, and or to keep a level head. Imagine having the rules of the Mormon church as an added addition to that already tireless ordeal?


With that in mind, maybe you will have a new found understanding for Hopoate’s decision.

To risk your position while you are the in-form player of the team sitting comfortably at the top end of the table speaks volumes of Hopoates’s character.

Many critics have slammed this as selfish, irresponsible and have even questioned if he should even be paid for games missed.

To any Mormon who has to withstand the ordeal and nature of our religion, this is what we brand as firm, undaunted and exactly obedient.

The example that Hopoate has set for so many other young Mormons coming through the ranks is outstanding. As a youth leader within my ward (boundary based group of Mormons), I have seen so many young Mormons emerge as footballers and make their way into an Under-20s or NSW Cup squad.

Notable Mormon players include the likes of Sam Perrett, Ben Hannant and the Penrith whiz Dallin Watene-Zelezniak.

While all of these players have not as yet said they are going to follow Hopoate’s lead, it has been rumoured that if DWZ was allowed the freedom Will has, he would happily stop playing on Sundays.

These type of decisions should be commended in this day and age.


In a league filled with so much alcohol, drugs and other misdemeanours, do the NRL-loving public really want to take aim at a man declaring that his religion is more important than a sport?

That a player who admitted to using illicit drugs can be immortalised, but someone who puts his faith first is criticised, speaks volumes with all that’s wrong with the NRL’s fan base.

It has been rare for any of the current Mormon players to be caught in any misdemeanours. They’re always held to their professional best, and will obviously not have any alcohol-related problems.

If the public were given an insight (something I hope I have provided), maybe some sense and respect would emerge for Hopoate’s decision.

To the public, he may be the hottest topic of the week for all the wrong reasons.

But to us Mormons, the decision has not only portrayed our religion as a firm foundation, but also assisted all our young men, reminding them that maybe they will be better for it as well.

This article may not sit well with many readers, but it is a chance for outsiders to understand just how hard being a Mormon NRL player may be in comparison to a ‘normal’ one.

It is the courage to stand alone, rather than with the crowd, which is the ultimate type of courage.