AFTER AN injury-hit start to his Leeds Rhinos career, import Nathaniel Peteru says he is delighted to be back on the field and has his sights set on a Betfred Super League recall.
Peteru, signed from Gold Coast Titans, suffered a biceps injury in Rhinos’ round-one victory at Warrington Wolves on February 2 and did not play again until last weekend, when he featured for dual-registration partner club Featherstone Rovers in a Betfred Championship victory over Batley Bulldogs.
The New Zealander has been named in Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad for tomorrow’s visit of Warrington. Former Warrington hooker Brad Dwyer and full-back Jack Walker are also back in contention, with Brett Delaney (shoulder injury) and Mikolaj Oledzki dropping out.
“It was really good to be back,” the 26-year-old New Zealand-born front-rower said of his run out with Rovers.
“It was good just to get my hands on the footy again.
“I only started training with the boys on Wednesday so it was good for me to get a run under my belt.
“I was happy with it and hopefully I can just build from there.”
Peteru was among Rovers’ substitutes in a 50-12 win and said his arm came through the game unscathed.
“It was sweet,” he said. “Once I got a few tackles in that gave me a bit of confidence and I went from there.”
Rovers boss John Duffy praised Peteru’s performance and the player was also pleased with his contribution after so long on the sidelines.
“It was really good,” he added.
“Obviously going into a team like that makes your job a bit easier. It was a good game, I was happy with that and hopefully I can build on it.”
A recall to Rhinos’ 17 is Peteru’s next step.
“That’s the goal,” he said.
“We will see how I go this week, with another game under my belt.”
The dual-registration system is controversial, but has paid off for Peteru.
Most Super League teams no longer have a reserve side and partnerships with lower-division clubs are used to give players game time as they return from injury or if they are not being selected.
Peteru feels he will benefit from playing with Rovers, rather than being thrown straight back into Super League.
He said: “That’s what the coach said, because I’ve been out for so long.
“I am happy with that. There’s nothing better than having a game under your belt. You can train as much as you want, but having a game under my belt gives me that confidence that when I get the call-up I’ll be ready to go.”
Following his early problems, an injury-free run is Peteru’s hope for the rest of the year.
“Hopefully that’s me done for the year injury-wise,” said the former NRL man. Hopefully I can come in and play my part in the team and give the boys a bit of a boost and make a bit of a difference and boost us up the ladder a bit more.
“I am looking forward to it.”