DEAN PARATA will become one of Super League’s oldest-ever debutants this season and the London forward says it will make all the sacrifices he has made in his career worthwhile.
Parata, the joint 2023 Championship Player of the Year, helped London secure a stunning promotion back into Super League with their Grand Final win over Toulouse.
This means the Australian, who has spent most of his career in the NSW Cup and the Championship, will appear in the top flight for the first time at the ripe old age of 32.
Parata made the move to the UK from Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in 2018 to join Barrow and has not looked back, while also enjoying spells at Toulouse and Featherstone.
“You get to a certain age in Australia and no matter how well you’re playing you’re done because there are 100 kids coming through,” he explained to League Express.
“So you just get written off, whereas over here, you can keep playing.
“It’s good because it doesn’t matter if you’re 27 or more, clubs will still give you an opportunity, which happened with me.
“Over here you still get opportunities, whereas in the NRL can you imagine a 32-year-old debuting?
“The hard work has paid off. I haven’t been able to soak it all in yet, but it’s really cool to get the chance to play Super League.
“It makes the sacrifices you made throughout your playing career worth it. It had been worth it beforehand, but this has just topped it off.”
While the Gold Coast native is gearing up for Super League, he is also preparing for life after Rugby League.
Four years ago he set up Parata Property, a real estate company that finds investments for property investors in the UK.
Parata started his business during the Covid lockdown when the Championship season was cancelled.
“I’ve always been planning for life after footy and I’d been in sales previously and I’d always wanted to get involved with property,” he said.
“The only person I knew at the time was in property and I asked whether I could come and do some work experience. I can be a bit obsessive about stuff and I just went 100 percent with it.
“After a year of doing it I started Parata Property and it’s going quite well now. It’s been hard at times juggling it with footy, but again just having that plan for something to go into after footy – if anything, it’s taken a lot of pressure off my footy.
“Footy’s not everything now, I can take it for what it is and enjoy it. And that for me is massive. Footy has become something I like to do, instead of something I have to do.”
Meanwhile, London will be without Bill Leyland for the entire season after the 20-year-old hooker, who was last season’s Championship Young Player of the Year, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injury in their recent pre-season game at Castleford.
Coach Mike Eccles said: “We are devastated for Bill. I think we all knew internally at the club that he was going to set the competition alight this year.”