The Roar
The Roar


Will Hopoate and religion - the real cost of not playing Sundays

Are the Doggies a chance in 2018? (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
5th September, 2016
2353 Reads

When Canterbury-Bankstown spruiked Will Hopoate’s signing from Parramatta at the end of 2015, Bulldogs coach Des Hasler boasted, “Will will be a valuable and experienced acquisition for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and I look forward to him joining the club.”

But how valuable is Hopoate?

In a watershed moment for all those religiously-inclined professional athletes, Hopoate successfully fought for an additional provision in his Canterbury deal. Due to his Mormon beliefs, Hopoate wouldn’t be playing any football on Sundays.

But how much is a player worth that decides when he is or isn’t playing?

Canterbury are on a slippery slope right now, and in the worst possible form imaginable. If the script continues, Penrith will put a cricket score on the Bulldogs this weekend and the Belmore club will be bundled out of the finals race without as much as a whimper.

Hopoate will be watching from a distance with Brett Morris expected to take his place.

And if the Bulldogs turn it all around and make it to the big dance on the first weekend in October, Canterbury’s “valuable” acquisition will be about as useful as a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest if he sticks to his guns.

If he doesn’t and opts to play he’ll be branded a hypocrite.

It seems Mr. Hopoate is allowed to have his cake and eat it too – so far.


“I am comfortable with that [not playing Sundays],” Bulldogs captain James Graham said on Monday.

“Will’s faith makes him the person who he is.

“We all support his decision.”

Bulldogs players might support his decision personally but professionally it must be hard to stomach.

Hopoate is well within his rights to argue that his religion doesn’t allow him to play sport on Sundays but Canterbury and other potential suitors are within their rights to say, “you’re not worth as much as you once were because we can’t use you on Sundays.”

It’s cold but it’s true.

Hopoate needs to figure out whether he’s a pro athlete, Mormon or if he’s going to be both – needs to face the fact that he’s devaluing his worth as a footballer. Not as a man; he has substance, something others lack. But this isn’t going to help him financially.

Players continually talk about setting themselves and their families up for life because they’re only in the game for a limited amount of time. So why can’t Hopoate put his religion aside like plenty have done before him and play the game?


Good luck to the guy. At the end of the day, Canterbury agreed to his terms.

The fact is, a full-time Hopoate is worth $450-500,000. A part-time Hopoate is worth $300,000.

Newcastle legend Matt Johns was full of praise for the utility back.

“I just tip my hat to William because he’s a bloke that will stick to his beliefs and he puts his religion above his sport,” Johns said on Triple M.

“He sees his religion as the most important thing in his life, along with his family.”

Hopoate will be 25 next year and his best seasons are ahead of him.

If he’s happy to skip Sundays for the rest of his career, he’ll potentially cost himself millions of dollars.

That’s if clubs catch on, and rest assured – they will.