Grand final star Will Hopoate has declared his desire to return to the Manly Sea Eagles when he completes his two years working as a missionary with the Mormon Church.
While the outstanding winger has attracted plenty of interest from NRL rivals, including what is believed to be a massive offer from Parramatta, Hopoate said coming back to Manly was his first choice.
He also admitted a big factor would be whether Des Hasler was still coach in 2014.
“But I have made a lot of mates here, they have been like brothers,” the Manly Cove Rebels junior said.
“It’s the club I love and the club I grew up supporting.
“I’d love to be in maroon and white but in saying that I’m just going to soak up the moment for what it is now and enjoy the week with the boys.”
What makes Hopoate’s decision to go on his mission even harder is his belief that the Sea Eagles are set for even more success on the field.
“With the core senior playing group they have got and the coaching staff anything is possible – back to back premierships wouldn’t surprise me,” he said.
Hopoate admitted a few people approached him during the celebrations asking him to stay next season.
“It will be a bit hard to say goodbye to the game for two years but in saying that it is the best possible way to go out,” he said.
Prop Brent Kite said he’s disappointed to lose Hopoate as a teammate but supports his missionary work.
“As long as he is bringing glory to God – I think he could do that on the footy field, I told him,” he said. “But he’s got to do what he’s got to do and that is fine.”