With a bit of help from his mate Matt Lodge, Pride Petterson-Robati has taken a big step in his return to rugby league’s bright lights.
Petterson-Robati and Lodge became friends when both were in the Melbourne Storm Under 20 system. They were similar in nature and similar in size – Petterson-Robati is a mobile backrower whose strength and quick feet had scouts marking in a long NRL future.
But Petterson-Robati hit some hurdles as he emerged from the Under 20 system. In the end, he moved from the Storm to Newcastle Knights and then quit rugby league.
“I’ve had some ups and downs. Things happen and I decided to take some time off,” Petterson-Robati said.
He returned to his home in Melbourne and started thinking about what came next.
Footy was still in his life – he spent the last three seasons in the Victorian Rugby League but Petterson-Robati wasn’t tested to the limits he knew he could achieve.
That’s when Lodge talked him into moving to Brisbane, suggesting he link up with the Norths Devils and coach Rohan Smith, whose entertaining and effective style had attracted players from near and far.
Lodge and Petterson-Robati were roommates when they were 18 and they shared a house again after Lodge invited him in with his family while he found his feet in Brisbane. He quickly found work with Devils sponsor Altus Traffic.
But, there was one problem – Petterson-Robati had to get in shape. And that meant losing weight. A lot of it.
He stripped almost 30kg from his frame and headed for Brisbane after the 2019 season had started and soon realised he needed to put some weight back on.
“I played for Valleys (Norths’ feeder team in the Brisbane Rugby League) and I knew I had to get some muscle back on,” Petterson-Robati said.
“I did that and I’m at a good weight now and really enjoying my football.
“It’s been a learning season for me – learning older things I had forgotten about playing football again at a level like this.”
After gaining match fitness with Valleys, Petterson-Robati made his way into the Devils’ top team.
His bench spot became a starting spot but only after Petterson-Robati became familiar with the speed and style of Intrust Super Cup.
“It’s been tough. Physically, it’s been a whole different level but I’m really enjoying it,” Petterson-Robati said.
“I’m loving my football again and that’s been something I’ve wanted for a long time.
“The boys and Rohan here have been very welcoming. It can be hard to come in mid-season and be accepted but that hasn’t been a problem here.”
Petterson-Robati’s personal goals lock into a team goal – he wants to go as deep into the season as possible.
He’s already achieved one goal – a berth in the Cook Islands team that played in June’s representative weekend alongside his Devils teammates Troy Dargan, Paul Ulberg and Moses Noovao-McGreal.