No wonder William Hopoate is the focus, both inside and outside the Church.
The Australian rugby star has made international headlines for his prowess on the field, most recently as a centre/back for St. Helens Rugby Football Club in the United Kingdom.
Latter-day Saints can recognize it by their participation in it “New Era” magazine. [em inglês]in one “I am Mormon” series video and the News of the Church. It was even mentioned from the pulpit in general conference by Pastor Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (“Planning your priesthood”, general conference of October 2019).
What helps Hopoate juggle the demands of faith, family and a career in the spotlight? “With the help of my wife, I try to put the Lord first, my family and my work second. I’m a rugby player. It’s what I do, not who I am,” he said recently. in the Church of the United Kingdom press room [em inglês].
Hopoate first came to attention when, at the age of 19, he refused rugby league contract [em inglês]estimated at $1.5 million, to serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brisbane, Australia.
This is a decision he does not regret, even now, more than 10 years later. “There are so many things I use in my daily life that I’ve learned from my mission, in terms of time management, priorities and habits. I see the mission as more of a privilege than a sacrifice, because what I gained spiritually far outweighs the sacrifice,” he said.
Although born and raised in New South Wales, Australia, Hopoate is of Tongan descent, a fact he discussed as a keynote speaker at RootsTech Connect in 2021.
He is married to Jimicina Green, who is also a returned missionary, and the two strive to teach the gospel to their four young children (with another on the way in August).
“One of the things that seems to inspire our followers on social media is the intentional role that Will plays in teaching the gospel to our children,” Jimi Hopoate said in the UK press room. “He leads the children in family prayers and takes great pains to prepare Gospel lessons, just as he did as a missionary.”
His family currently lives in the UK as Hopoate has a two-year contract with St. Helens RFC, with option for a third year.
Hopoate’s most important team is the one he created with his wife, he said, and it’s vital to his success. “She provides encouragement and support for me and the kids, both physically and mentally.”
A Rugby League Star Instagram page [em inglês] not only is it filled with highlights from games and family vacations, it also includes special moments, such as Hopoate blessing his children or going to church in the clothes his grandmother made for them: “I brought a little bit of Tonga to England,” he told the publication.
Hopoate commented that his peers respect his faith. “If you define your standards and values early on, a lot of challenges will be eliminated.”
When he looks back, he can see how the gospel and its teachings helped keep him safe. “By obeying a code of health and being chaste, I have been protected from the consequences that have cost some athletes their careers or their contracts due to misconduct.”