Life with Christ - footy and noble off-field forays

'Hopoate's 'hand of God' helps to put Sea Eagles over the line' reads The Sydney Morning Herald headline celebrating the flick pass performed by Will Hopoate, helping Glenn Stewart over the line and his team to grand final victory.

"He was my man of the match," said teammate Anthony Watmough. "I don't how he does it because it was just freakish. We'll definitely miss him. Some of the stuff he does, no one can do. That try in Origin … and he was unlucky not to score a freakish one again there today.''

In a sporting code better known for its players' dubious off-field antics than feats of athletic prowess and tactical mastery, Hopoate, 19, stands out as a bastion of humility. "For everything that's happened to me this season, I'm very grateful," he said.

But he's also a pariah, as much for his abstaining from alcohol as his choices: what kind of bloke, in his right mind, would step off the field at the peak of his career to do missionary work?

Hopoate is about to commence two years of service to Christ in his Mormon church during which he will have one day off a week, rise at 6.30am for prayer and have very little communication outside the Brisbane-based church community he's been assigned to.

"It is a large sacrifice but it's in aid of having a true spiritual experience," Sue Owens, Queensland public affairs director for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, told The Courier Mail.

"Where we differ from some faiths is that we encourage an individual experience of God and the best way for that to happen is to shut out distractions."

If, as the Bible says, blessings come through association with those who are in favour with God, then Manly had better think hard about who they're replacing their star winger with.

See also: Senna, cinematic tour de force

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