Tall, bald and tattooed: New Wolfpack recruit Cory Paterson is hard to miss
Toronto Wolfpack player Cory Patterson is shown in this handout image. In the absence of the departed Fuifui Moimoi, Ryan Bailey and Dave Taylor, Toronto Wolfpack supporters may find their new fan-favourite in Australian forward Cory Paterson, whose resume includes boxing and acting in addition to rugby league. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Toronto Wolfpack RLFC
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 24, 2018 2:33PM EST
Cory Paterson will be hard to miss with the Toronto Wolfpack this season.
“I'm bald, I've got a lot of tattoos and I'm pretty tall,” the 30-year-old forward said with a chuckle. “That's what you've got to look out for - the bald tattooed Aussie.
“Just someone who works hard and tries to play aggressive and be a good teammate. That's hopefully what people will look at when they see me play,” he added in a more serious vein.
In the absence of recently departed forwards Fuifui Moimoi, Ryan Bailey and Dave Taylor, Wolfpack supporters may also see a new fan favourite in the six-foot-five, 220-pound Paterson.
His resume includes boxing and acting in addition to rugby league. Earlier in his career, a 21-year-old Paterson showcased his kicking skills for the NFL's Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals.
“You could say I've had a bit of an adventurous career, mate,” said Paterson. “But I'm really excited about joining the Wolfpack - buying into their aspirations and how they want to build the club moving forward.
“Obviously it's an extra bonus of being able to pretty much live and stay in Toronto for a few months of the year as well, seeing the world again and experience a new country. And meeting a whole new set of fans as well.”
The Wolfpack, rugby's first transatlantic team, won promotion to England's second-tier Championship after winning the Kingstone Press League 1 in their inaugural 2017 season.
Paterson is one of several new faces recruited to help the Wolfpack survive the tougher competition.
He sees the bigger picture in coming to Canada, believing that Toronto's success will help pave the way for the sport in North America.
“There's a big challenge there for us to perform,” he said.
A back-row forward who can also play in the backs, Paterson made his National Rugby League debut in Australia for Newcastle Knights in 2007 and went on to play for North Queensland Cowboys and Wests Tigers as well as stints in England for Hull Kingston Rovers, Salford Red Devils and Leigh Centurions.
Paterson, whose father has aboriginal ties, has also represented the Indigenous All Stars on three occasions.
Toronto coach Paul Rowley, who knows Paterson well having signed him to Leigh in his previous coaching job, likes what he sees from the Aussie in camp in England so far.
“He's looked really good,” Rowley said.
Paterson, who is entering his 12th season, played with many of his new Toronto teammates at Leigh.
“I pretty much know everyone,” he said. “When you've been around as long as I have, you meet a lot of blokes here or there. All the guys are real good guys, they're all working hard.”
Paterson signed with Hull Kingston Rovers in 2012, in search of new adventure abroad. A British passport helped his move but he returned to Australia several years later after his wife had some medical issues so they could have the support of family.
They are back in England now, with Paterson's seven-year-old son a member of Liverpool's soccer academy. Their daughter is nearly two.
He says rugby remains his primary passion, but enjoys his “hobbies” on the side.
“I never say never to anything any more,” he said. “The universe works in mysterious ways sometimes.”
Still family time comes first these days away from rugby.
Paterson has studied acting and his resume includes a role in the crime drama “The Dark Return of Time.”
“For me it's a nice little form of escapism,” he said of acting.
He won both pro boxing bouts as a heavyweight, saying he did it to challenge himself as an athlete.
“There's no real better way than to jump into the ring with someone that wants to knock your head off,” he said.
In the past, Paterson has talked openly about battling depression. In 2010, Billy Slater apologized after Paterson reacted angrily during an NRL match when the Australia and Melbourne star fullback reportedly told him to “Go and have a cry in your room.”
In 2011, Paterson made headlines Down Under when, after converting to Islam, he became just the second player in NRL history to tackle the holy month of Ramadan.
Coming up through the NRL ranks, he learned from the likes of stars like Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus at Newcastle and Johnathan Thurston and Matt Bowen at North Queensland.