When you’re eight games into a professional Rugby League career – and setting the world on fire with some incredible performances – the last thing you tend to think about is taking a two year break away from the game that has turned you into a superstar.
But that’s exactly the situation Penrith star Dallin Watene-Zelezniak is faced with, as he prepares to decide whether to take a break from the NRL to undergo a two-year Mormon missionary.
Watene-Zelezniak has been a revelation since bursting into the first team at Penrith, and although he has given them an assurance he will play on for at least another season, what happens beyond then is anyone’s guess. The youngster admits he could come back and carry on playing when returning – just as the likes of Will Hopoate have done in the past.
But he told the Sydney Morning Herald that the prospect of being away from home for two whole years could mean he forgoes the missionary in order to continue his incredible NRL career – with a call-up to the New Zealand squad for the Four Nations still a possibility later this year.
“I know if I served my mission I’d be blessed to still then be able come back and pick up where I left off,” Watene-Zelezniak said.
“But I’m a family boy, too. I can barely stay away from my family for weekends when I’m away with the team. Every day my mum is talking to me about it. She wants me to go. My dad is a bit more chilled. Mum is telling me how awesome of an opportunity it will be for me. She said it will change my life. She’s not hounding me for the wrong things or forcing me, she’s just giving me advice, like a mother would.”
“Everything has been my decision,” he added.
“No one is pushing me. I’d love to stay but I also know it will be an amazing opportunity if I did go.”