Queensland backrower Sam Thaiday has revealed NSW flyer Will Hopoate tried to convert him during his two year stint as a Mormon missionary in Brisbane.
Rugby league was the last thing on Will Hopoate’s mind during his two-year Mormon mission.
Then he inadvertently knocked on Queensland backrower Sam Thaiday’s front door.
Banned from reading newspapers and watching television, Hopoate had no clue of the rugby league world he had left behind as he spread the word of God in Brisbane from 2011-13.
But Thaiday revealed he couldn’t resist giving Hopoate a quick update on all things league when the NSW flyer surprisingly came calling.
However, Thaiday admits he won’t be so accommodating in Wednesday night’s State of Origin game two in Sydney as a desperate Queensland look to exploit NSW’s new-look right edge featuring a recalled Hopoate.
Hopoate’s decision to turn his back on the NRL at the end of 2011 with the rugby league world at his feet is well documented.
But what is not common knowledge is Hopoate tried to spread the message to Thaiday as a Mormon missionary.
“Yeah he did knock on my door,” Thaiday said.
“He didn’t watch any footy so I filled him in on how it was going.
“It’s good to see someone like that go away from our game for a period of time and come back, still be a fantastic player and make a rep team again.
“It just goes to show what a fantastic young talent he is.”
But NSW will be hoping Hopoate will make a bigger impact on Thaiday on Wednesday night.
“No, he didn’t convert me,” Thaiday smiled.
“And we didn’t try and hide when he knocked on the door. We were very nice and polite.”
Hopoate shouldn’t expect similar treatment in Origin II.
Thaiday admitted NSW’s new right edge of winger Hopoate and rookie centre Josh Dugan were in Queensland’s sights as they looked to keep their quest of nine straight series wins alive.
Hopoate and Dugan have replaced the injured Brett and Josh Morris for game two, setting up an ominous showdown with Maroons strike weapons Greg Inglis and Darius Boyd.
“They have those two new guys on our left hand side,” Thaiday said.
“We’ve got some great players in Darius and GI on that side so it would be silly for us not to target them.
“But our whole game plan won’t centre on that.
“We know it will be a tough hard battle through the middle first.
“All Origins are. It’s a forwards battle first and then the backs do all the flashy stuff and look good.”