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Latter-day Saint Rugby League Player Puts Mission First

Since Joseph Vuna was young, he always had two dreams: to serve a mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and to play in Australia’s National Rugby League.

When Joseph was nineteen, he achieved one of his dreams as he debuted in New Zealand’s Warriors team for a season. However, he decided to put his pursuits of playing rugby league for the Warriors on hold, to serve a two-year mission with the Church.

Joseph said, “The sacrifice seemed so big to me at the time, to leave the New Zealand Warriors for my mission, but it is such a small sacrifice compared to what Jesus Christ has done for me.

Joseph Vuna, returned missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plays for the Gold Coast Titans in Australia’s National Rugby League. June 2021Photo courtesy of the Gold Coast Titans

He was called to serve in the Australia Melbourne Mission, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Elder Vuna was reassigned and finished his missionary service in the New Zealand Hamilton Mission.

In 2020, he finished his mission and moved to the Gold Coast, Australia to try to get back into the NRL. After much hard work and preparation, Joseph Vuna made his debut Saturday, June 5.

“It has been a lot of hard work, training and getting fit after my mission, but my faith remains strong and firm in the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

He played with the Gold Coast Titans against Melbourne Storm.

Former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994), once said, "When we put God first, all other things fall into their place or drop out of our lives."

"My experience is a testament to this quote,” Joseph says. “I made the decision to leave my dream career behind while I went to serve the Lord. I trusted that if playing in the NRL was what the Lord wanted for me after the mission, then He would bless me with that opportunity. This past weekend, I got to make my NRL club debut for the Gold Coast Titans. I felt overwhelmed and blessed.”

Read more about missionary service here.

Joseph Vuna talks about his mission service in this video posted by the Gold Coast Titans.

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