It was time to give back: Peats
Eels hooker Nathan Peats – by his own admission selfish at times in his early days in the NRL – is a new father and a changed man, a fact attested by his coaching of the La Perouse Panthers under-13s side this year.
Now a Parramatta local, Peats admits the twice-weekly trek across Sydney, with its nightmarish peak hour traffic, can be a burden – but he has no regrets.
"They're cheeky little kids but they're really enjoyable and hopefully they get something out of it," Peats smiled.
The rugged rake will have to sit out coaching duties this weekend for the first time in 2016 as his side faces its first sojourn out of Sydney, playing away to the red-hot Cowboys, meaning Peats's partner in crime and close mate Aaron Grech will be flying solo, and Peats said without Grech's contribution he probably wouldn't have taken on the gig.
"If it wasn't for my mate Aaron Grech who I do it with I probably wouldn't be able to do it on my own. Sometimes he has to cover for me like this weekend I'm not going to be back in time," Peats said.
The decision to take on the role with his junior club was "about giving back", according to the former Rabbitoh.
"I was probably a bit selfish earlier in my career just with giving back. At signing sessions I'd think "I just want to go home" and I think I've realised over the last couple of years I've got to give back a bit more.
"I get so much out of footy and I wasn't really giving back so I just saw an opportunity to coach my local junior side so I thought I'd take it with both hands."
Peats contemplates the idea that a series of major injuries – a ruptured ACL, a fractured vertebra, each season-ending over the past two years – may have been a sign he needed to contribute more.
"Just with the rough trot I've had, I don't know if it was karma or something, I just thought 'I've got to give back'," he said.
"But I didn't do it because I had to, I did it because I wanted to. It's a bit of a trek going from Parramatta to La Perouse a couple of days a week. Sitting in the traffic I doubt it sometimes but it's enjoyable and hopefully they get something out of it."
Becoming a first-time dad has also helped mellow the self-confessed angry ant and changed his perspective on things. Much like his NRL coach Brad Arthur, Peats said he can get a bit cranky at times but has also been keen to soak up some coaching advice from Arthur and Wentworthville coach Joey Grima.
"[Arthur] coaches his son's 14s team too so I get a couple of tips from him. Joey Grima's really good too, the Wenty coach, he's really good with all the kids drills and Brad's given me a few. He's a bit like me, he's a bit angry sometimes," Peats laughed.