Written by John Davidson
Photo by Leigh Journal
Leigh hooker Nathan Peats says he is quickly coming to grips with Super League but believes his best is yet to come.
Peats only signed for the Centurions at the end of March and did not complete pre-season with his new teammates. The former Gold Coast hooker was thrown into the fray early on his arrival to the UK and made his club debut in the Challenge Cup against Huddersfield on April 1.
Peats has now made three Super League appearances for Leigh, who have yet to win a game this season.
The hooker feels he is getting used to the style of the English game, which contrasts greatly with that in the NRL.
“It’s a lot different to back home. The standard back home week-in-week-out is very tough and you’ve got 17 blokes in the team that are quality players,” he told Everything Rugby League.
“I’m not saying anything against Super League, it’s just adapting to a different style. It’s a lot more attack-based over here, a lot faster as the wrestle back home is a big thing and the quicker the game the harder your wrestle gets worked on.
“In saying that I’ve only been here four or five weeks with no pre-season under my belt or match-fitness, so its felt really fast as my lungs aren’t where they need to be. And coming off the bench has been a different role than I’m used to as well.
“Anyone who knows me I’m not a relaxed sort of person, I’m pacing up and down the sideline and I want to get on. I’m a bit frantic. But against St Helens I started and I felt a lot more comfortable, starting is a lot easier for me and you get into the game a lot easier.
“That’s one of the biggest things I’ve noticed – the pace of the game is really fast and with the play the ball it seems to go bang, bang, bang, bang. It’s hard to get the momentum back defensively. That’s the same in the NRL I guess but the really good wrestling teams can get that wind back and then get back in the grind.
“In saying that I’ve enjoyed it so far, I’d just like to offer a little bit more. But I knew coming over here without a pre-season and not knowing the guys and just go straight to being a top player.
“I knew it was going to take a month or so to get some fitness under my lungs and the Ks in my lungs. I’ve haven’t been great, but I haven’t been bad either.
“I’ve just been building every week and I’d like to offer a lot more and I think I’m quite capable of doing that.”
🗣️ "They do a lot of work on breaking their roles down…making sure the detail is right, and also the communication skills as well."
🔴⚪️ Leigh head coach and former half-back John Duffy on what he expects of his halves.
🎧 Listen to his Coaching Manual appearance.
— Sky Sports Rugby League (@SkySportsRL) May 14, 2021
Peats has been averaging 4.6 carries, 29.6 tackles and 30.6 metres per game for Leigh.
On Monday the Centurions face local rivals Wigan, who lost just one match in all competitions so far this season and sit in second spot on the table.
The 30-year-old is looking forward to the challenge, but admits a lack of personal knowledge about much of the opposition in Super League has been a benefit of sorts.
“I know who the good teams are but I don’t really know who the individuals are, the good players,” Peats said.
“Back home you need Wigan and St Helens are the top teams and you watch them on TV, but I haven’t been nervous for games yet because I don’t know everyone’s names or who they are. So every week for me it’s oh we’re playing this team this week.
“So for me it’s probably been good. Obviously I know St Helens and Wigan are good and play a good style, but not knowing who every individual is has been alright.
“But I’ve had to learn the hard way, against St Helens I had to tackle that big bloke Alex Walmsley. I didn’t know who he was, everyone was talking him up. I saw him in the warm-up and thought he was a big boy.
“And then I had to tackle him and far out, he’s solid. So it’s good I’ve not been nervous but then you found out during games who’s doing really well.
“But Wigan have got some good players there, some good English players and they’ve got a smart coach. John Bateman’s come back there, he was in career-best form at Canbera, he’s one of the best running forwards in the game.
“So the fact that he’s there, you’ve got your Bevan French, Hastings, then you’ve got your really good English players so it’s going to be a tough game.”