They are three F-words that Eddy Pettybourne hopes will never leave his vocabulary … Faye, faith and family.
The 28-year-old’s 10th season at the top level has been his hardest – physically and mentally.
He has never gained any momentum in his quest to become a leader on the field for the Titans because of injury, playing only eight NRL games. And that has hurt.
First came a calf problem after he’d played just 17 minutes of the round one clash against the Knights. He returned in round five to take on the Broncos and competed well for 35 minutes but two rounds late, against the Dragons, the former Kiwi international could contribute only nine minutes when he walked off with a compound fracture of his thumb in the first minute of the second half.
After a run with Burleigh Bears to get match fitness, it was five weeks before he was back in the side for the round 11 clash at Penrith. From then Pettybourne gradually built up his minutes and confidence when he played five successive Titans matches when another setback came.
However, he’d played just 13 minutes when he was concussed against the Raiders at home and could not return, leaving the side with 15 men for most of the second half after Nathan Davis had earlier broken his leg.
On Friday night, again after a confidence boosting run with the Bears, he’s back. And hopefully, he can be a key Titans forward in the run into a finals appearance.
All along the tough run his rock has been his partner of eight years, wife Faye, and his family in Sydney and the Gold Coast who have kept his spirits high.
“Faye been my rock,” Eddy said. “Her faith in me and our faith in God has got me through.
“It’s been the toughest season I’ve had, for sure. It was tough mentally as well as physically.
“I’m not going to lie, it was hard; I just couldn’t seem to get any momentum and make the contribution I wanted to for the team.
“We’re two thirds of the way through the season and I feel I haven’t really done what I want to for the boys.
“But we have eight rounds to go, and hopefully I can stay on the field and add something to the team.
“My goal is to chip away and be better at training every week and increase my minutes in the games.
“I have grinded it out and had a lot of my friends and staff help me out during that time. I’m grateful to be back playing.”
The other two of what Titans fans now recognise as the ‘Hair Bears’, have been there for him too.
He is the senior member, and mentor, but the way Leivaha Pulu and Agnatius Paasi have taken their opportunities at the Titans when their careers were on the verge of mounting to little NRL action when they joined the club continues to inspire him.
The three of them will again be on the bench against the Dragons on Friday night, with a joint vow to add energy and aggression when they are called to action.
“We’re pretty close – I call them my brothers; my younger ones anyway,” he says.
“We feed off each other at training, work on our weaknesses and try to improve each other through fitness or whatever it is.
“We have a goal every time when we’re on the field together to lift a gear for the team. I’m so happy with what they have achieved so far, especially Iggy. When I look at where he came from last year, he’s really doing well now.
“And Vaha is the same; we feed each other and to see them grow as men is awesome.
“Vaha is getting a lot more confident and he’s not afraid now to come out of his shell and show his skill. He’s a big man but he has good ball skills and he’d pretty fit as well.
“His determination to do the best he can for his family has been an inspiration. This was his one opportunity after not being able to crack it over five years and he wants to take it with both hands.
“It’s good to see him thriving.”
It would mean a lot to not just the other of the Three Bears but all his teammates if Eddy is back to thriving too in the remaining third of the NRL season.