Aquis Titans’ recruit Nathaniel Peteru has followed fellow big man Agnatius Paasi to the Gold Coast in more ways than one, with the new signing making similar sacrifices to chase an NRL opportunity.
The Titans have a second ‘Nate’ in the front row ranks after Nathaniel, known to friends simply as Nate, hopes to get a chance to play alongside skipper and Queensland and Australian representative Nate Myles before the end of the 2015 season.
Teammates in the New Zealand Warriors under-20s premiership winning side in 2011, Paasi and Peteru are once again wearing the same colours after Peteru made the decision to take up an offer from the Titans shortly before the June 30 transfer deadline last week.
Like his countryman Paasi, Peteru has left behind his family and friends in New Zealand, uprooting his life in hometown Auckland to at short notice pursue the opportunity offered by the Aquis Titans.
“Similar to Iggy (Ignatius Paasi) I’ve left my family behind in New Zealand,” Peteru said.
“I’m looking to establish myself here on the Gold Coast, it’s a great club to come to and I’m really looking forward to it. My partner Sina is back in Auckland working, but she’ll look to come over here next year and settle in.”
After taking a chance on nothing more than an opportunity, Paasi has been one of the surprise packets for the Gold Coast this year, making big improvements and establishing himself in the NRL side. After a good start to the year in the NSW Cup, Peteru will be looking to follow the lead of Paasi and break into the Titans NRL side.
Peteru’s connection with Titans assistant coach Rohan Smith – who coached both forwards last season - was a big reason for his switch to the Titans, with the pair enjoying a good working relationship in their time together at the Warriors.
“I’m looking forward to working under Neil Henry, ‘Ro’ (Rohan Smith) and Terry [Matterson] and taking my game to the next level,” Peteru said.
“I think I can do that here at the Titans, it’s a good move and a fresh start for me.”
Having injured his knee in round 10 of the NSW Cup last season Peteru needed a knee reconstruction and missed the remainder of the season. After being close to a first grade call-up at the time of the injury, it would have been easy for Peteru to drop his bundle. However the big prop remained positive throughout the 12-month process, his attitude impressing then Warriors NSW Cup coach Rohan Smith.
“He got named 18th man a couple of times and was on the cusp of getting a go in the NRL, but he did his knee,” Smith said.
“But he spent that time working on his strength, focusing on what he could do, he didn’t drop his lip he just got on with things, and that made him more resilient and stronger.”
A testament to his resilience and attitude, Peteru refused to see his knee injury as anything but a positive turning point in his career, playing every game in the NSW Cup this year.
“I feel like I’ve come back well from the injury,” he said.
“It was a long hard road but I got through and have come out a better player and person I think. I had to sit out most of last year, so it’s been good to string together a consistent run of games this season and get back into it.”
He is looking forward to reigniting his positive affinity with Rohan Smith.
“Ro really helped me with my game at the Warriors, both on and off the field,” Peteru said.
“He really helped me make me into the player I am today.”
After playing a role in Peteru’s development at the Warriors, Smith said he looking forward to working with the big Kiwi again.
“We formed a good relationship from the start, we spent a lot of time together last pre-season, talking about the path to get to the NRL, and spent a lot of time on video analysis working through the process to take that next step,” Smith said.
“He’s had a good NSW Cup season to date and is punching out some good minutes. He’s very direct with his carry but has some subtle skill before the line as well. He likes contact and enjoys the physical battle of the game.”
Peteru is also looking to finish his Bachelor of Health Science at university. Having converted most of his family from rugby union to league, the Titans will be hoping he can convert his loyal Auckland followers into Titan fans with Paasi, Eddy Pettybourne and Matt Robinson all holding a Kiwi connection.