You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
'Until the wheels fall off': Pat Politoni celebrates game 150

Pat Politoni was convinced that when he moved to Queensland from New South Wales in 2016, it would be a short-term stay.

But eight years later – and with 149 Hostplus Cup games under his belt for the Burleigh Bears – it is clear that the star rake is right at home on the Gold Coast.

This weekend, Politoni will run out against the Northern Pride in Cairns for a major milestone match, in what will be his 150th Cup game.

With two NRL State Championships to his name as well, he said it was clear what the Bears meant to him just based off the fact he had played every single one of his 150 games at the one club.

“It’s pretty special,” Politoni said.

“When I first moved up here, it wasn’t really something I thought I’d reach or do. I thought it would be a short-term thing.

“To be able to do that, especially with the group of men I play with and the people at the club, it makes it special.

“The Gold Coast is a nice spot. Not too many would turn away from that. But I’ve also met so many good people at the club who have made my time here easier.

“The footy club, the boys that I’ve played with, I’ve created really good bonds and friendships for life and those guys have become like family now.”

Milestone men: The Burleigh Bears six

Before he moved north with his partner, the Leichhardt junior had played 12 NRL games across his time with both the Wests Tigers and Cronulla Sharks.

Since arriving on the Gold Coast, he added another four NRL games to that tally through the Gold Coast Titans.

But the majority of his football in Queensland has been with the Bears and it all kicked off on the sweetest note when Politoni was part of the premiership-winning Burleigh side in 2016, which was their first title in over a decade.

Jimmy Lenihan was at the helm during Politoni’s early days at the club – also coaching the Bears to their 2019 premiership – and the 33-year-old said it was his former mentor’s influence that made him fall in love with the game again.

And it’s a legacy that continues until today.

“In terms of playing, Jimmy is a massive influence on me and just made me love footy again,” Politoni said.

“It’s something I fell out of love with and I was just tracking along. I still liked the game but he just made me think about the game a lot different and just getting back to enjoying footy again.

“He left a massive mark here and a lot of the people who were here while Jimmy was here are still in and around the club. The culture they built and the standards they set is something that they’ve kept going.

“Those principles were carried on by our senior players and a lot of us have stayed on and are still playing. We kept those standards and the coaches coming in believed in those same sorts of things.

“It was a good mesh and we’ve been able to have a lot of success.”

For Politoni, that success and his two premiership victories are his most special moments with the club, especially when he was able to have his son on the field during the 2019 celebrations.

Sami Sauiluma and Pat Politoni with their children after the 2019 Cup grand final.
Sami Sauiluma and Pat Politoni with their children after the 2019 Cup grand final.

But he also considers this milestone – 150 Cup games – to be another career highlight.

And not just to reach the milestone, but to do it at one club alongside a number of his long-term teammates and friends.

This year at the Bears, six players will reach major milestones.

Halfback Guy Hamilton will also tick off 150 games while five-eighth Josh Rogers will hit 100.

But, alongside Politoni, skipper Sam Sauiluma and lock Sam Coster will also reach for 150 games for the one club, while backrower Hayden Schwass already did so earlier this year.

For Politoni, it makes it all the more special.

“Playing a lot of Cup games, that’s a feat in itself," he said.

"But to do it at one club, it shows commitment to a club, consistency that you’re still playing at a high level, and that you’ve found a really good place and jersey that you have a lot of respect for, and standards you want to uphold.

“To do it for one club, and especially Burleigh, I feel like it’s very special.

“A lot of accolades need to go towards the club and the people we’ve worked with in this time as well.

“It doesn’t really happen a lot, to have so many players do it all around the same time, so that’s pretty special. The coaches and then from (Damian Driscoll) Drisco the CEO down to the managers, they need to get a lot of that applause as well.

“It says a lot about Burleigh as a club.”

Politoni in action. Photo: Dylan Parker/QRL
Politoni in action. Photo: Dylan Parker/QRL

In a recent interview with the Queensland Rugby League, Politoni said he doesn’t know yet when his end date is.

“I don’t know how long I have left but with these guys, we’re so close and for me, it’s until the wheels fall off,” he said.

“I will just keep going until I can’t anymore.”

But whenever that time comes, Politoni knows there is one last thing he wants to achieve – he wants one last premiership.

“I definitely want to win another one,” he said.

“That’s the end goal. That’s everything. That feeling is addictive. I want to get that back, especially after losing and being so close to getting there again last year and falling just short.

“The motivation is a bit extra this year. That’s something I really want to do.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Platinum Partners

View All Partners