Titans' gentle giant ready to unleash
Around his teammates there is perennial grin spread across his face and when he sits blokes on their backsides at training it is more by accident than outright aggression but a leaner Nathaniel Peteru says he doesn't have to be mean to be effective.
For a 25-year-old with just eight NRL games to his name, earning a place in the starting 17 for the season opener last week was an important milestone for Peteru.
Injuries have plagued his development since joining the Titans from the Warriors midway through the 2015 season but such is the regard for which he is held he was included in the team to meet Brisbane in the qualifying final last year despite playing only two NRL games in the regular season.
A decade ago Adam MacDougall joked that the way to get the best out of South Sydney teammate Manase Manuokafoa was for the club to buy him a mirror so he could see how big he was every day before training.
Titans players such as Ryan James and Chris McQueen speak of the difficulty in trying to contain the sheer size and power of Peteru at training and that perhaps he too could benefit from an $80 full-length mirror.
Peteru's quiet and polite nature off the field belies the aggression with which he plays in the middle but he told NRL.com that some coaches in the past have tried to make him angry in order to play better.
"Coming through the grades a couple of coaches used to do that to me," Peteru said ahead of Saturday's clash in Newcastle.
"I've noticed that if you play a bit angry you don't play as smart. It's about playing with controlled aggression and a bit of smartness and awareness as well rather than going out there and trying to be Tarzan.
"Neil [Henry] and the coaches here tell me to play with controlled aggression and the rest will take care of itself.
"I like to be polite, that's how I was raised, but once you step onto the field you go into battle with your mates. That's the mentality I have."
Having played at 112 kilograms throughout much of 2016, estimates put Peteru at 117kg when he returned for pre-season training in November.
He has since shred nine kilograms to be at a playing weight of 108kg and at 196 centimetres his teammates are hoping to see him put his big frame to good use in 2017.
"The sooner that he understands that he's a monster the better," Chris McQueen said of Peteru who ran for 84 metres and 21 tackles in 33 minutes against the Roosters.
"He is definitely a big boy but he's still pretty young and young in terms of experience.
"He had a full pre-season and for a big guy he can move. Strong as an ox as well so he's ticking all the boxes.
"I can't wait to play more footy with him."
Adds James: "I don't think many people would want to see him angry because he'd hurt people.
"He just seems to pull in players and he has a late offload that can really disrupt teams. When you've got someone like that coming off the bench and playing 15 or 20 minutes either side of half-time he can be really destructive.
"Nate's still got a bit of learning to do but once he realises he's bigger than most of us and a lot more skilful than most of us he's going to come on and be a great player."
A relative late bloomer, Peteru didn't make his NRL debut until he was 23 in Round 18, 2015 but says he now has the physical capabilities to go with an inner belief that he belongs in the NRL.
"To be honest I always have had the belief. Not to sound cocky but I always had the belief that I could match it, it was more whether I was up to the physical standard required," said Peteru, who played 21 NYC games for the Warriors in 2011-2012.
"I've got the right formula at the moment and I'm just going to keep working on that."