Loving Luron: Penrith’s next big thing

Luron Patea. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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With his dad the most recent coach of the Penrith Emus, Luron Patea’s career could’ve went in a whole different direction.

Playing both union and league growing up, Patea is a product of the famed Panthers Pathways system but, something many may not know, he was also a gun in the sport his dad Ronnie lived and breathed.

While Patea played his entire junior representative footy with the Panthers – Harold Matthews, SG Ball and Jersey Flegg – he also devoted plenty of time to the 15-man game.

A Penrith RSL Rugby Union junior and Penrith Emus Colts rising star, Patea was selected to represent the Australian Schoolboys in Japan back in 2022.

During his time with the Emus in the ACT Vets Colts Cup, Patea played alongside his close friend Isaiya Katoa, who is now making a name for himself as halfback of the Dolphins.

Eventually, when it got to the crunch, Patea had to make a choice between a potential career in the NRL or one in the wild world of rugby.

Luron Patea with his family after making his NRL debut. Photo: NRL Photos.

He could’ve easily been a star in both, but it was rugby league and the defending Premiers that won out in the end.

So, when Patea called his father Ronnie late last month to let him know he was debuting in first grade for the Panthers that weekend, the tears started flowing.

“Dad was really emotional after I called him to let him know that I was going to play,” Patea told the Weekender.

“He was just so happy for me whether I played union or league, he was just happy to see me happy playing footy.

“He’s been really supportive, especially last year when I made my decision to stick with league. He just wanted me to be happy and play my best footy.”

The 19-year-old prop was strong on debut, playing a solid 21 minutes off the bench and racking up a perfect 17 from 17 tackles.

Patea said everything about his debut, apart from the result, was a dream come true.

“I’m still buzzing!” he said.

Luron Patea chatting with Nathan Taylor. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“It was a really big moment for not only myself, but also my family. It’s something that I’ll remember forever and I’m just really grateful.”

Just a week prior to his debut, it was confirmed that Patea would be remaining with the Panthers until the end of 2027 – meaning Penrith supporters and the entire playing group will be getting to know him more and more in the years to come.

“We’ll be seeing a lot of him,” three-time premiership winner Moses Leota said.

“He’s got plenty of talent. He’s very powerful, skilful and just really aggressive. That’s what you want from your forwards and he’s a good candidate for next year.”

Along with departing Panther James Fisher-Harris and former Panther turned Rooster Spencer Leniu, Leota is a mentor to the young New Zealander, taking him under his wing at training and away from the paddock.

“Me and Fish just try and instil work ethic into them, especially the young boys coming through,” Leota said.

Luron Patea with his family after making his NRL debut.

“We teach them some drills that we do at training, we also do a bit of extras and stuff like that. We try and build their game around work ethic.”

Patea, who will turn out for Penrith in NSW Cup this weekend, said he’s beyond grateful for all the advice and mentorship he receives.

“There’s things they do that I watch or see that I want to implement into my game,” he said.

“Having those guys here, being mentors towards us young fellas, they’re really good to learn off.”

Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the Weekender's Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.

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