Nathan Peats is coming to the end of his maiden pre-season with the Gold Coast Titans, and Laurie Daley rewarded his efforts by inviting him to his third Emerging NSW VB Blues camp, which took place at The Star yesterday.
Despite his ability, Peats is yet to play for NSW, but his toughness for the Origin arena cannot be questioned after famously playing 36 minutes for the Parramatta Eels in 2015 after fracturing the C6 vertebra in his neck.
No stranger to hard work, the Titans hooker is thrilled to once again be in Daley’s calculations for the sky-blue jersey, and remains optimistic due to various players he sat next to in previous Emerging Blues camps going on to play State of Origin.
“It’s nice to be invited to come down, I think it’s my third year now,” Peats said to NSWRL.com.au.
“It’s a bit different this year, the group is a bit smaller and it probably makes it feel a bit more special that I’ve been selected in that kind of group.
“There [were] a lot of good players here [yesterday], and I was here last year where three or four boys went on to play Origin, that’s always the dream, to play representative footy besides winning the Grand Final.
“I’ve set some goals, whether that happens this year or not is soon to be seen, but I’m not looking too far ahead in the future, I’m just worried about finishing off pre season, starting Round 1 and go from there.”
Extensive turnover at the Titans means that despite only joining the club midway through 2016, Peats is one of the more familiar faces around the Gold Coast.
The spine he will be a part of includes various rising stars who lack experience, including Ashley Taylor and Kane Elgey.
Consequently, Peats has taken it upon himself to be a leader within the playmakers, with the help of NRL superstar Jarryd Hayne.
“We’ve got a pretty young squad this year, so obviously it’s exciting to be a part of the leadership group of that side, and me stepping up as I’ve gotten a bit older,” Peats explains.
“We’ve got Tyrone Roberts there too [along with Taylor and Elgey] so we’ve got three quality halves, I don’t know who will be the final two to play Round 1, but it helps to have ‘Haynsey’ [Hayne] at the back as well, he’s got a lot of experience there to help.”
Hayne, along with Peats, is also taking part in his first pre-season with the Titans after joining at the back-end of last season.
While Peats was quick to point out the massive potential and talent throughout the entire Titans squad, he certainly hopes the “Hayne Plane” can return to his devastating best.
“I’m expecting a big year from him, obviously he was a bit hot and cold the last six games he played at the back end of last year,” Peats says.
“Now he’s had a full pre season, got the fitness under his belt and touching the footy day in, day out I think it’ll only benefit him and the side, so I hope he has a big year.”
With the likes of Hayne, Taylor, Elgey, Konrad Hurrell and Ryan James at the club, it’s obvious to see why Peats is so optimistic about the season ahead.
“I’m only new there, but I think about 18 players moved on so it’s a real fresh feel there and I’m really excited,” Peats says.
“We’ve got a new squad and a new coaching staff and new facilities so we’re really enjoying our time there and hopefully it’s a big year for us, it’s a pretty exciting team we have.”