Melbourne Storm star Young Tonumaipea will leave rugby league in July to follow his faith and serve a full-time mission in Germany for two years.
A devout Christian, the 25-year-old told his team-mates and coaching staff during the week of his decision to leave the sport to go on a two-year mission.
He will travel to Germany in July as part of the mission where he will teach his faith and conduct service in communities without pay.
Tonumaipea became just the second Victorian to pull on a Storm shirt when he made his debut in 2014 and he has gone on to play 40 games.
The Samoa international said he is confident his decision to leave rugby league and serve a mission is the right one.
He said: “It’s something that has been on my mind since last year, it has been one of the biggest decisions of my life.
“As I have matured, I’ve come to learn that football is not everything in my life.
“I’m a devout Christian, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and I’m passionate my full-time mission over the next two years can make a difference in other people’s lives as well as mine.
“Since high school I’ve been in the Storm system, I’m forever grateful and thankful for Melbourne Storm and the values I’ve learnt here.”
Storm football director Frank Ponissi was sad to see Tonumaipea leave but understands his decision.
He said: “We are disappointed to lose a player like Young however we are fully supportive of his courageous decision to follow his faith, something which is incredibly important to him.
“Young is a player who has been with our club and in the Storm system for a long time and has made a significant contribution both on and off the field, always conducting himself in the upmost manner. We are incredibly proud of the person he has become.
“We wish Young all the best on his mission over the next two years and for the future.”