Hopoate understands mixed response
Bulldogs fullback Will Hopoate understands the mixed response to his decision to put his faith before football on Sundays.
Hopoate said his two-year Mormon mission in 2012-13 has held him in good stead since revealing his decision over Easter not to play any part in the NRL on Sundays.
"I can understand [the negative remarks]. Religion isn't for everyone. Not everyone enjoys it," Hopoate said, speaking for the first time since the revelation.
"I can't control what people say. I'm obviously very grateful for the kind words and can understand the negative words.
"It's a choice to be offended by unkind and negative remarks. It's an important lesson I learnt on the mission after being abused at verbally nearly every day," he added with a laugh.
"The worst thing you can do is to react. So I choose not to be offended."
Hopoate could very well have faced his Bulldogs teammates this weekend with the 23-year-old almost joining the Storm once handed his release from Parramatta last year.
He also discussed having a similar Sunday clause with Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
"Melbourne was the next option. I had the opportunity to meet with the Storm, an experience I was very grateful for. It was a close call but all my family is here in Sydney and that was tugging at me a bit," he said.
"I think Craig's a good coach, his résumé speaks for itself. To have so many great international players there too, it would've been a thrill. That was a big draw card but my family in Sydney pulled me across the line for the Bulldogs."
Reuniting with former Sea Eagles mentor Des Hasler was also a factor in him linking up with the Bulldogs, Hopoate expressing his appreciation for the coach for backing his decision.
"He supported me a lot with my decision. I was very grateful that he accepted it. I understand the club could've easily declined that offer, but Des understands that what gets me going is my faith," Hopoate said.
"I'm enjoying my footy here and coming to a strong system has helped as well."
Hopoate will miss the Bulldogs' captains' run due to Sunday service but will fly to Melbourne with his teammates later that day.
Hopoate also put any choice on playing or missing the grand final on the backburner, mentioning it will only become a decision that needs to be made if they reach the pointy end of the season.