New Robin’s narrow Italian escape

New Hull Kingston Rovers signing Nathaniel Peteru found himself at the epicentre of the Coronavirus pandemic while trialling for a rugby union club in Italy.
The forward joined the Robins shortly before the Super League lockdown, but had previously been trying to earn himself a contract in the 15-man code, which had taken him to Italy.
While there he trialled with two rugby union sides, Pro 14 side Zebre and Rovigo Delta, a side that plays in Italy’s top domestic competition.
Both clubs are based in the Parma region, which is just 45 minutes away from Lombardy, which has been described as the worst affected part of the world when it comes to COVID-19.
But that was just the start of the problems for the former Leeds forward, who was away from his partner and six-week-old baby, who had both remained in the UK.
“To say the last few months have been a whirlwind would be an understatement,” Peteru told League Express.
“I switched to union and was training for a contract. During that time I had a baby with my partner, who is in the UK, so I had four or five weeks in Italy, came back, and then went to Italy again. I missed a few weeks of my child’s life.
“But once I got back I only trained once before they started putting measures in place. It’s really scary over there. I think everyone was too laid back about it at first and now they’re feeling the ramifications, but I didn’t foresee it getting that bad.
“I’m glad we stayed in the UK because we dodged a bullet. I had to put my family first and, talking to my agent and my partner, we didn’t feel it was appropriate to pursue Italy any more so I decided to come back to the UK. I had to get back as soon as possible because everything was up in the air when it came to travel.”
Once he arrived in the UK, Peteru was advised to go into quarantine for 14 days. That prevented him from training with the Robins, with whom he has signed with for the rest of the season. But he did manage to get one training session in, only for the lockdown to then be put in place over in the UK.
For now, he’s settling into life back in the UK and in Rugby League, having initially decided to step away from the sport following his departure from Leeds.
“After the past few seasons at Leeds I needed a breath of fresh air and rugby union provided it,” he explained.
“Straight after Leeds I was training with Cornish Pirates, which was enjoyable.
“I was really enjoying my time in union and I don’t have any regrets, even though it didn’t work out as planned. I like testing myself and I’ve come back to Rugby League with a better skill set and some transferrable skills. But I had to put my family first.”
Peteru is keen to put his time at Leeds behind him, and focus on the task at hand with the Robins. At 6’5, it’s clear that he brings the size Tony Smith has desired in his pack since the sad injury to Mose Masoe. But he wants his talking to be done on the field.
“I left Leeds on good terms; they were happy for me to pursue other opportunities,” he added.
“I didn’t want to be there; I wasn’t there for the right reasons and that’s why I made the jump to rugby union. But being away from the game for the past six months reignited the love.
“I don’t want to talk myself up, and I’ll let my actions speak for themselves. I want to earn the respect of the boys first by doing the basics right. I don’t want to come in and be a hero, I want to do my job as best I can and them to think I can contribute positively.
“Talking to Tony (Smith), he thinks I can do that. We first spoke at the back end of January; he thinks that’s what the team needs and I’m a team person.”