In light of William Hopoate’s decision to complete his 2-year Mormon mission, commencing at the end of the 2011 season, the Manly club have moved to ensure that no team can poach the young star whilst he is away on mission.
The battle was hard-fought all the way, with the Eels and Bulldogs fighting tooth and nail to secure his signature, before the Mormon mission was considered as important in his life at this time.
In order to ensure that Manly get first crack at Hopoate when he returns, they plan to make him an offer whereby they get the first and last attempts to convince him to stay with the club.
“We’d certainly like to keep him in the family,” Sea Eagles chairman Scott Penn said.
“If he does choose the path he’s chosen then we would like to look at a first and last option when he does come back so that we can have every opportunity to keep him at Manly. It’s a risk, but it’s a risk that’s worth taking. It’s important that we keep him in the family.
“We haven’t signed off on that yet, but it’s something we are working towards.
“He’s already indicated he wants to come back. It’s important that we try and get some form of agreement with him to back that up.”
Whilst it was hard to give up footy just like that, Hopoate knows that the Mormon mission was where his heart was, and he had to complete that first.
“I’m human, money talks,” Hopoate said.
“I wouldn’t be as happy if I stayed. This is what’s going to make me more happy at the end of the day.
“I told the boys this is not something I’m forced to do or have to do, this is something that I want to do.
“God knows, mate. I’d love to come back and play, but we haven’t got that far yet.”
His father John Hopoate, who was behind his son’s decision all the way, said that for William to turn down the money that he did, shows the NRL world the sort of person he is.
“The money that he’s walked away from is massive,” said John Hopoate.
“That he can walk away from that kind of money … some clubs were offering $1.5 million over a couple of years … to walk away from that is massive. That just goes to show what type of person this kid is. He’s put his faith first before money.”