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From the playing field to the bunker: Luke Patten

15 Nov 20, 1:20PM 0 Comments

Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk

Photo by Getty Images

Luke Patten has been involved in multiple aspects of Rugby League throughout the years, with his playing days being the most notable.

Growing up on the South Coast of New South Wales, it was fitting that Patten would get his first start in the NRL with the Illawarra Steelers; however, the fullback is best known for his 225 games at the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.

Patten’s decision to join the Bulldogs in 2001 had a significant impact on his life as a whole, but in the end, would pay off in a big way.

“Going to the Bulldogs changed my life in many ways. I had to move out of home in Wollongong to Sydney. I didn’t know anyone at the club and I had to prove myself all over again,” Patten told Everything Rugby League.

“There’s no doubt it’s the best decision I’ve made in my life.

“The training was liking nothing I had done before and I questioned whether I could get through it. It made me mentally stronger but also gave me more confidence physically. The majority of the 04 premiership-winning team came through that tough training and I believe we were fitter and stronger than everyone else.

“I’m a life member of the Bulldogs which is very important to me and the skills I learnt at the club over that time I continue to rely on now I’m retired. The attention to detail, discipline, pride in performance, strong mentally.”

Luke Patten celebrates winning the Grand Final with Canterbury

Following his nine-year stay at the Bulldogs, Patten would achieve a major goal of his, which was to play in the English Super League.

He would sign with the Salford Red Devils, and although issues with the club would arise “the General” enjoyed his time in the UK.

“I’d always wanted to play Super League after going over for the World Club Challenge in 05. I was coming off what I thought was a poor year personally in the NRL and needed a change, plus Benny Barba was playing well and I wanted to do the right thing by the club.

“I still had a year left on my contract but Salford offered me a 3-year deal plus Daniel Holdsworth had gone there and I’d stayed in contact with him asking him what it was like.

“It was a great experience living in England. The English boys are legends and even though I started slowly over there I think I did play some good footy.

Luke Patten playing for Salford in the Super League

“It was a shame that Salford was a mess administration wise. After two years my body started to struggle more and I couldn’t train to a level that I needed to, so I decided to retire. Plus in the end, I had trouble getting some money that I was owed, which left a small sour taste in my mouth.”

“If I had my time again I would probably have gone to one of the bigger clubs over there, but all in all I have positive memories of my time over there and highly recommend it to anyone. I’ve been saddened by the decline in the SL as I believe it has huge potential.”

Patten would return to the NRL as a video referee in 2013, a position he would keep for several years.

Unfortunately, the backlash that comes with being a video referee took its toll on the 40-year-old, but Patten is glad he was able to give back to the game as an official.

“The hardest part of the video ref job was dealing with all the negativity around it. I did over 400 games as a video ref and I’m proud of my contribution.”

Luke Patten in the NRL's Bunker

In 2020, Patten would transition to the NRL’s match review committee, a move that he is currently relishing in.

“I’ve enjoyed the match review role, I work with a small team and I can use my knowledge both as a player and a video ref. It’s been great to be back involved in the game and hopefully, that grows over time.”

The National Rugby League continues to develop it’s match review committee to ensure that players are tried and disciplined correctly for onfield misconduct.

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