Perrett sought to follow in Hopoate's footsteps

When Bulldogs fullback Will Hopoate announced he would not play NRL Telstra Premiership matches on Sundays due to his religious beliefs, it was widely tipped that teammate Sam Perrett would take his spot at the back. 

But leading in to what shapes as the first of three consecutive Sunday afternoon games, Perrett – a fellow Mormon – revealed that he had also spoken to Bulldogs coach Des Hasler about sitting out matches to honour his faith.   

"I actually had a chat with Dessie about it," Perrett revealed.

"I would have liked to have done that for sure… but he said we're down too many troops."

The 30-year-old said he had nothing but respect for his club coach following their open conversation, conceding his circumstances were different to Hopoate's. 

The Bulldogs veteran said he was inspired by his teammate's decision to forego Sunday afternoon matches, admitting it was something he had never truly considered. 

"I support my 'brother' in the decision he's made in taking Sundays off," Perrett said. 

"Once he told me, I went home and was thinking about it all night. I'm just grateful that I've got that relationship with Des where I'm able to go and chat to him about it. He was really good with it too.

"It really stirred something in me because we obviously believe in the same thing. It never occurred to me to ask. I did [this time] and Des kind of said that this was something that was prearranged before he came so I appreciated that and understood it completely.

"I've played Sundays all my career so it wasn't a big drama for me, but I had to ask."

While religion has never seen him miss a game at NRL level, Perrett revealed that he never played rugby league games on Sundays when he was younger due to his strong beliefs. 

"As a child, my father always said that I was never to play on Sundays, and that's what I did," he proudly revealed. 

"I never went to mates' birthday parties or anything like that on Sundays. It was the Sabbath day and the day of rest."

As his career started to flourish however, the Kiwis representative realised his faith could cost him a possible future in the game. 

It took a frank discussion with his father to help him decide what to do. 

"It got to a stage at Burleigh Bears where it became professional as a young player," he recalled. 

"I remember the coach saying 'boys you're going to be playing most of your games on Sundays'.

"I went away a bit worried thinking 'what am I going to do here?' I went home to dad and said 'I've never played on Sundays. What am I going to tell the coach?'

"He said 'If you want to make a career out of this then you're playing Sundays from now on'.

"That blew me away after all that time. I was uncomfortable for the first couple of Sunday games but it was fine after that."

Perrett said he and Hopoate would go through their regular pre-game routine of Morning Prayer this weekend before going their separate ways ahead of the clash against the Tigers. 

"He lives in a different area so he'll go to his Ward and I'll go to mine," he said. 

"We always do that if we have time on Sundays. We always catch the morning session and then go to the games, so that's nothing new either. 

"I'm out here to do my job and I've been asked to play on Sundays so I'll do it as best as I can, just as I have my whole career."

Teammates were quick to throw their support behind the pair, with Josh Morris crediting Hopoate's faith for making him the man he is today. 

"You can't bag a bloke for his faith," the NSW centre said when asked about Hopoate. 

"His faith is a massive part of who he is. Those [are the] qualities that make him such a likeable bloke and all the blokes were definitely behind him when he made that decision."

Canterbury five-eighth Josh Reynolds concurred with Morris, telling media he believed Hopoate's actions would most likely inspire people who were in a similar position. 

"I've got to take my hat off to him to tell you the truth," Reynolds said. 

"Will gave up two years of his career to go out of football and whatever money he was on, he put that to the side and went and dug into his faith. 

"I'm sure there are a couple of kids out there at the moment that are probably going through the same thing. 

"I think they'll aspire to what Will is doing. He shows them that you can do both. He's such a great guy and you know he does things for the right reasons."

This article first appeared on NRL.com