THERE was a time when Larne Patrick was “scared” to even talk at Huddersfield Giants and freely admits he was prone to the odd sulk.
However, a season-long loan at Wigan Warriors has seen the explosive forward return a more mature figure and one who is now confident of bringing his best to the West Yorkshire club.
As moves go, Patrick landed lucky in the swap deal that saw Jack Hughes move the other away across the Pennines, given he went on to play in a World Club Series game and, also, the Super League Grand Final.
Granted, the 27-year-old was on the losing side both times for Wigan but it was all part of the experiences he – and Huddersfield head coach Paul Anderson – felt he required in his development as a player.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post ahead of Friday’s Super League opener at St Helens, Patrick conceded: “I went away as a bit of a young stubborn lad really.
“I’ve definitely done some growing up this last year and come back with a wiser head on my shoulders.
“It was a bit unknown to be honest as to whether I would come back. It was good to know I could but at the time I was in a bit of a rut personally and I just needed that little bit of a change.
“Basically, I needed a kick up the backside and going to Wigan certainly did that.
“I loved my time there and was very grateful but am very happy to come back and see the challenge here.
“I come back and feel almost like a senior player. I’m not scared of giving younger lads a telling off if needed and ultimately I feel a bit more respected by everyone not just players but coaches, too.”
Asked what he was like before, the player who was capable of blistering spells off the bench but often struggled for stamina, gave an insight into his psyche.
“It wasn’t that I was doing daft things as such,” he said.
“But if I had a bad game I could be down and sulk about it, knocking myself down in a bit of a rut. And then it’s a downward spiral whereas now, even though I didn’t have the best of years personally at Wigan, I think I tried to keep things level, knocked things on the head early and then looked straight to the next week rather than sulking.
“I’m not afraid to ask questions and speak out in front of the players now. I was embarrassed to do that two years ago; if something was to be said and I knew the answer sometimes I’d shy away from it scared I’d be wrong.
“Now, though, I know at the end of the day we’re all a team and all friends and realise no one will take the mickey out of me as they know I’m trying.”
It seems a paradox Patrick saying he didn’t have the best of seasons despite playing in those two aforementioned high-profile contests and totalling 29 games in Wigan colours.
But perhaps he just did not stand out as much as he sometimes did – admittedly for those short bursts – in Huddersfield colours.
Nevertheless, Patrick, most commonly used at prop or second-row but readied to play loose forward this term, has certainly impressed Anderson sufficiently.
The Huddersfield coach has spoken about the former Bradford Bulls Academy growing up and being set for a more dominant role in his squad.
Patrick, who joined in 2009, admitted: “I am really looking forward to it all.
“I’ve been given the No 13 jersey, a starting number, and hopefully I can be the starting loose forward. It’s very similar to front-row but a bit more about hitting leads out wide which is what I love doing.
“I’ve spoken to Baloo (Anderson), changed a few little things and am looking forward to hopefully getting some big minutes.
“I definitely know I can do the full 80. At Wigan I did that about five times and I think I’d only ever done it twice before!
“I can always add impact off the bench but ultimately I want to be a starter.
“I’m out of contract this year, too, so I’m vying for a big year and knuckling down.”
Bizarrely, of course, Patrick was part of the Wigan side that knocked his parent club out of the Super League semi-finals last season, denying them a maiden Grand Final appearance.
“I was proud to get there but it was a tough one,” he recalled.
“It really was probably one of my most nervous times yet as obviously I went there to try and get extra experience of things like Grand Finals but knocking Huddersfield out, too, was a sore one.
“The final itself felt breathtaking, to be honest. I’d never experienced that before but now have a taste for it and want to taste it with Giants. I know we’re good enough. It’s just about not letting the big games get hold of us.”