Cory Paterson has already lived quite the journey. Born in Perth, he would find the game of Rugby League while living in Brisbane, with his family moved quite frequently around Australia with his father part of the Army.
Who would of thought the former fullback who by his own admission wasn’t that good at first would develop into a block busting second rower causing havoc to little halves and centres on the edge. His professional career would start with a bang at Newcastle, with Cory fortunate to find himself in a team with two of the greats Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus and he would set the league a light with some great performances in his first couple of years.
There were some testing years to follow, injuries, a drop in form and his own battle with depression. But sometimes you have to be tested at your lows and what will define you is the way you bounce back from your struggles. You can tell in his voice and tone that he is a proud family man, with many of his life decisions placed solely around doing the best for his family.
His journey would take him far and wide, the North Queensland Cowboys, West Tigers and a couple of different stints over in the UK for Hull, Salford and Leigh Centurions, while a career highlight being selected to represent the Indigenous All Stars on three occasions.
What I really enjoyed speaking to Cory about was his ability to seek out a challenges and to move away from the norm of staying in your comfort zone. To think his challenge right now is to be part of a Toronto Wolfpac team looking to take Canada Rugby League into the Super League competition an enormous challenge, while part of his journey also took him to boxing, a brutal sport which can test you to your core with no team mates to gain assistance or hide behind.
This is the story of Cory Paterson, Listen to the entire episode below or continue for my key takeaways and stories from our powerful chat.
“I was born in Perth, but my dad was in the Army so we moved around a fair bit. When we moved to Brisbane I started playing footy then I moved Canberra, then Sydney then we moved back to Perth at 12. I played for Western Australia at one of the under 15’s carnivals and Warren Smiles from the Knights put me on a development scholarship. The following year I trailed with the SG Ball side got a 2 year contract and moved over by myself at 16 and lived with Jarrod Mullen and his family, It was a big move at only 16, but that was my dream and I had to make sacrifices and things like that to achieve it. So I’m definitely glad I made the move. I was very lucky to have Mullo’s family be so supportive and they took me in like their own and still today I consider them like second parents and Mullo’s like my brother, he's the god father to my son and best man at my wedding, I was very lucky I landed on my feet with good family”
PLAYING WITH GREATNESS
“I’m super lucky, I debuted with Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus and those type of blokes and then at the Cowboys I had Johnathan Thurston and Matty Bowen. I’m so fortunate to have had the career I’ve had and play with the players I’ve played with and against. You pick things up along the way, how to prepare for matches and training, everyone’s individual but I tried to take as much as I can from the awesome player’s I’ve played with”
“I'm 30 now so I’ve been around for a little while. I let my actions do the talking and if I'm doing the right thing for myself, then I hope it rubs off on other players a bit of professionalism, but I think leaderships comes from doing rather than saying that’s my sort of my motto, you do it and then you don’t have to talk too much”
FIRST GRADE DEBUT
“I remember my debut like it was yesterday, it’s something I’ll never forget, the rest of the year was a bit of a blur. I was an 18, 19 year old playing with my heroes it’s something I’ll never forget. On reflection I was very fortunate, I got to play a few games with Joey and just training and having him around the club was every kid’s dream come true”
“Everything happens for a reason, peaks and troughs and this and that we all go through them and it was one of those things. A bit of adversity maybe was not what I needed, but I was flying those first two years. I wouldn’t say I was comfortable but sometimes the universe throws a spanner in the works and it’s how you respond to it”
“It was one of those things, after the first two years, then getting injured and playing bad. It was just shitty time in my life off the field. A bit of adversity thrown at me, but I can look back now and say I got through it, came out the other side. That was in 2009 and now 8 years later I’m flying. It’s one of those things at the time you think it’s the worst time ever, but now I can look back have a smile on my face because I got through it and have a successful career in my eyes”
“In terms of getting the best out of me, I think Brian Smith got the best out of me those first two years but I’ve always had a pretty good relationship with Rick Stone as well. Stoney’s one of those blokes, he’s a real man’s man. He’s honest with you, he will tell you’re straight and there is a mutual respect between you. For me he had to graft hard to where he is now, being a brick layer and then coaching Q Cup and working his way up the ranks to be successful in the NRL then a Super League coach, his taught me a lot about hard work and patience and you’ll get there”
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“My Dad’s Aboriginal and I’ve always known about it, because he was in the Army we never really settled and got culturally taught a lot because our family was spread around everywhere, Dad always told us we were Aboriginal and I always embraced it. I think the whole All-Star’s concept is massive, that one game and one week and that community stuff we did far outweighs one game of footy that’s played, it brings the community together which is awesome”
LOVE FOR BOXING
“I loved it. I had an awesome coach in David Birchell, I had great people around me. My friends and the Mrs were so supportive. I loved it, the whole it’s me and no one else. I played with blokes where they pick up the slack for you or you pick it up for them. When I was boxing it was me or nothing. It gave me that, when times are tough, when you’re sparring and you don’t want to do it, but you get up and get through, then you win a fight, it’s a very satisfying feeling”
I really enjoyed this chat with Cory and finding out more about his life away from the game. He has some great perspective from the life experience he has and has some important lessons for all of us, particularly around adversity and not letting it keep you down.
I wish him luck on his endeavours to bring Toronto into the Super League. When we speak about growing the game outside the hubs of Australia, New Zealand and the UK, the possibility of a professional team out of Canada is exciting for the game and its growth.
It should be an exciting season so be sure to continue to follow Cory on the journey, his social media channels are below.
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