Flash forward 50 years. A young Australian named Will Hopoate is a rising rugby star. His team, the Manly Sea Eagles, recently won the Australian National Rugby League championship. Like Sid Going before him, Will is a member of the Church who has opted to leave professional rugby for two years while he serves a mission to Brisbane. Will already has a contract waiting for him on his return with the Parramatta Eels, but that's an uncertain future two years off. We hope he will have a very successful mission and return to a rugby career like Sid Going.
Sid and Will met shortly before Will left on his mission. They both spoke to youth at a meeting in Canberra. Speaking of the decision to serve a mission, Sid said:
If I didn’t go, I don’t know if I would’ve have had the career I did. I came back a much more mature person, knowing the goals and directions I wanted to go. It was the best decision I made at the time, and I’m sure Will will feel the same. I think the decision is the best decision he could’ve ever made.Will added:
I was never the most obedient child, but I have found that if I put the Lord first in my life, everything else just falls into place. Everything just takes care of itself ... He blessed me to play first grade, He blessed me to play State of Origin, He blessed me to play in the finals ... In my heart and soul, I know that those things are blessings from God.Here is a great "I'm a Mormon" video from Will that tells his story.
And here are several examples of the tremendous media coverage about Will and his missionary service:
- Rugby Star Will Hopoate Gives Up Millions for Missionary Service
- All Black legend backs Will Hopoate's mission
- Mormons in sports: Much ado about Will Hopoate
- Hopoate's mission starts after NRL grand final
- Manly winger Will Hopoate to serve his Mormon mission in Brisbane
- Thy Will be done: Hopoate walks tall on a much more modest stage
- With Hopoate signing the Eels go Good Will Hunting
- Nothing will stop Will Hopoate's Mormon mission