WHEN William Hopoate is confronted with a media scrum he shifts awkwardly, clearly out of his comfort zone.
But thrust him in front of packed church pews to speak about his faith, and it's a completely different story. Next year, the quietly-spoken Manly winger will walk away from the riches of the NRL to embark on a two-year Mormon mission.
Having broken into Origin this year, and his team in premiership contention, the sacrifice is immense. But the 19-year-old justifies his decision with one simple sentence - two years of service for an eternity of blessings.
''That sounds like a pretty good deal to me,'' Hopoate told the gathering at Canberra's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Wednesday. He was speaking as part of a seminar on the influence families have on sportspeople's careers.
The eldest in a family of nine, Hopoate is a rising star but completely unaffected by the spotlight of NRL stardom.
Modestly or naively, he was unaware his decision would spark such an overwhelming reaction.
''I didn't really think it would have this much of an impact, I was just trying to be an example for my younger brothers and sisters,'' Hopoate said.
''Luckily enough it's blessed others, and I'm happy for it. I told the boys when I made the announcement it's not something I'm forced to do, it's something I want to do.''
The pride Hopoate's father, John, has for his children was palpable when he addressed the congregation.
Winning a premiership for Manly, he said, doesn't compare with the birth of his children. Winning an Australian heavyweight title belt? Not even close.
The former controversial winger harbours more than his fair share of regrets. But top of that list is letting the chance to embark on a mission of his own pass him by.
''I got asked to go on a mission, but chose to do mission impossible and stay,'' John said.
''I wish I did go and it's one of my biggest regrets. I've seen friends go on missions as boys, and come back as men.''
John and wife, Brenda, beam with pride as they watch Will speak about his impending adventure.
They left the decision in Will's hands, and fully support his stance.
''Most parents would tell their kids to stay for the money, but how can you force your son to not go and do the Lord's work?'', Hopoate said.
''He [God] blessed him with his talent, not me. Money's a big factor in kids' lives these days, and to walk away from that shows the values he has in the church.''
Will is so devoted to his faith, friends who visit the family home are often forced to wait while he buries his head in a Bible.
''Even if his friends come over he'll go missing to read the Scripture, then come back out,'' John said. ''Without fail he reads the Scriptures every day. My wife has to kick me up the arse sometimes to do it.''
Will confirmed that this does happen, but his mates don't think that he's rude.
''I try to hang with them, but if they come over and I'm in the room [reading], they probably have to wait a few minutes,'' he said.
''Most of my friends are members of the church, so they understand.''
Former All Black Sid Going is living proof a sportsman can take a two year sabbatical and return to play at the elite level.
The legendary halfback fulfilled his own Mormon mission as a 19-year-old, before playing 86 Tests in the 1960s and '70s. The man dubbed ''Super Sid'' in his heyday also spoke at Wednesday's seminar, and backed Hopoate to the hilt.
''I think it's a wonderful decision Will has made, and he'll never regret it,'' Going said.
''Will sends a wonderful message to others pursuing sport.''
Going's story provides solace to Hopoate that he can also return from his mission and play representative football.''It's definitely inspiring for him to be away and to come back one of the legend of the All Blacks,'' Hopoate said.
Hopoate fractured his leg against the Eels last week, and is racing the clock to be fit in time for the finals.
''I've just got to get stuck into the rehab and get back as soon as I can,'' he said.