Written by John Davidson
Photo by Toronto Wolfpack
Former NRL forward Cory Paterson has set his sights on becoming a coach after hanging up his boots.
Paterson retired at the end of 2018 after 13 seasons playing in Australia and England with the Newcastle Knights, North Queensland Cowboys, Hull KR, Wests Tigers, Salford Red Devils, Leigh Centurions and Toronto Wolfpack.
The 31-year-old is now based in the UK and has been most recently assisting the coaching staff at English Championship club Widnes Vikings.
Paterson admits he never harbored a desire to go into coaching before an enlightening chat with Sydney Roosters boss Trent Robinson.
“I never thought I had the personality to be a head coach,” he told Everything Rugby League.
“I don’t really like confrontation, but I had a chat with Trent Robinson in Australia. He’s someone who coached me at Newcastle for four years.
“I value his opinion very highly as he’s a super-coach. To have him as a sounding board for me is a big thing.
“I was originally going to stay in Perth and coach their SG Ball team. Trent said to me anybody can be a coach that’s the beauty of it, any personality can be a coach.
“Look at me and Craig Bellamy – he has his style, I have my style. There’s different styles. Anybody can be a coach, just like anybody can be a player.
“For him to say that to me gave me a bit for confidence and reinforcement that I could be, if I choose to pursue it, my personality would allow me to do that. I know I know a lot about the game, but as a player there’s a lot of stuff you don’t see that coaches go through.
“I am under no illusion that I’m going to walk into a head coaching role, by no means. But I do believe that I know the game inside-out, I know the environment inside-out and I’m willing to work hard for it.
“I’m happy to do my apprenticeship for however long that is as an assistant, or coach academy or reserves next year, I know I have to do my apprenticeship and I’m happy to do that. We’ll see where it unfolds.”
Paterson officially retired at the end of last season after an injury-plagued season with Toronto. The back-rower missed out on the Wolfpack’s Million Pound Game loss that cost them a spot in Super League.
Paterson returned to Australia briefly after finishing up with Toronto, and got a regular job, but the 193 first-grade game veteran feels he still has plenty to offer in rugby league.
During his career he learnt off a number of top coaches including Robinson, Brian Smith, Neil Henry, Mick Potter, Ian Watson and Paul Rowley, as well playing alongside the likes of Andrew Johns and Johnathan Thurston.
“Retirement has been good, it’s been different,” Paterson explained.
“I wanted to get away from the game for a while, I went to Perth for five months and did some real work in the mines.
“I’d never had a real job, I went straight from high school into full-time footy. For me, I wanted to sink my teeth into something different and see if I liked it.
“My wife said to me you’ve played professional rugby league for 13 years, you’ve been playing since you were four, why would you waste that knowledge? That’s your apprenticeship. She was right.
“For me, the penny dropped and rugby league is my passion. It’s what I know and what I believe I was all right at. So I feel I’ve got a bit to give back.
“Now I’m enjoying being on the other side of the fence and coaching. I feel that I’ve got a vast amount of experience that I can help the next generation.
“I’ve been down at Widnes for the last month just helping Kieron Purtill out. He’s a good friend of mine and someone who I rate as a person, first and foremost, but I rate him highly as a coach as well.
“I came back from Australia and he said he was understaffed. So I’m helping him out and I’m about to start my Level 3 coaching course, so that will be good for me.
“I’m Just trying to see what’s out there for next year and get something established.”