Luke Patten signs with Salford - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Luke Patten signs with Salford

By David Beniuk 27/07/2010 05:23:40 PM Comments (0)

Talking to Luke Patten about Canterbury is a bit like asking your grandfather about the Great Depression or World War II.

The veteran fullback, who will cut short his stay with the Bulldogs by 12 months to join English club Salford on a three-year-deal next year, has lived through some tough times at Belmore.

Nicknamed The General after US General George S Patton, the affable 30-year-old doesn't shirk it when asked to look back on his decade at the club, a decade that included a salary cap scandal, the Coffs Harbour sexual assault allegations and the Sonny Bill Williams walkout.

"They were all pretty tough," Patten told reporters on Tuesday.

"The salary cap year (2002, when the Bulldogs were stripped of their competition points) I thought we'd probably win the comp, we were so confident week in and week out that we could beat any team we came up against."

Two years later came serious allegations of a sexual assault at the team's pre-season camp hotel at Coffs Harbour.

Bulldogs players were questioned by police, who eventually said there was insufficient evidence to lay charges.

"I think that really tested a lot of guys but that's a year I'll never forget as well," Patten said.

"It's bizarre because it was one of the toughest years but also one of the most enjoyable because you'd get out on the field and that group of guys just really stuck together.

"We played some terrific footy and to beat the Roosters made it sweeter that year as well."

When Williams secretly quit the Bulldogs and headed to French rugby union in 2008, the club quickly nosedived into one of its darkest hours, finishing with the wooden spoon.

"At the time it was very upsetting," Patten said. "But looking back we've only got a limited time.

"He did the wrong thing, he went about it the wrong way but life goes on."

As well as the 2004 title-winning campaign, there have been other boom times, including the rebuilding of the club under new coach Kevin Moore and chief executive Todd Greenberg in 2009, when the Bulldogs finished second.

"I've really taken on board what it means to be a Bulldog," Patten said.

"I've learnt (with) a lot of discipline and hard work you can get what you want so I think that's something I'll carry with me the rest of my life."

He will play in the Super League under former South Sydney boss Shaun McRae and alongside former Bulldogs team-mate Daniel Holdsworth.

"Football-wise for me this year, I've been a little bit up and down so I think the opportunity to play over there for another three years is fantastic for me," Patten said.

"The main drawcard was just continuing to play rugby league on the other side of the world and just really experience that."

Greenberg paid tribute to Patten's off-field influence and said a suitable send-off would be organised for the Dogs' last home game against Penrith in round 25.

"We've got a couple of little ideas to salute The General," Greenberg said.

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