Roberts primed for NSW call-up

These days James Roberts can joke about his troubled NRL past.

But the ex-Gold Coast flyer is serious about a “fresh start” in Brisbane that he hopes leads to NSW Origin selection this year.

The once wayward 22-year-old is at his fourth NRL club after leaving the Titans due to an off-season contract forgery scandal.

Asked how he felt meeting his new Brisbane teammates on Monday, Roberts laughed: “I’ve been to about three (clubs) before so I am used to it by now.

“But no, I was pretty excited to get back into training – it’s a fresh start, a new beginning.”

Broncos coach Wayne Bennett compared Roberts to Brisbane great Steve Renouf at their first pre-season training session of the year.

And he guaranteed Roberts would replace another legendary Broncos centre – retired captain Justin Hodges – in their starting line-up.

But Roberts was hoping to make a name for himself in Broncos colours after being earmarked for NSW honours by Blues coach Laurie Daley.

Daley – also the Indigenous mentor – said he would use next month’s All Stars clash in Brisbane to gauge Roberts’ NSW claims.

“Obviously that’s good to hear,” Roberts said of Daley’s praise.

“But I will just try to do my best for the team and myself, but hopefully that (opportunity) shows itself later this year.”

The reigning Dally M Centre of the Year knocked back offers from South Sydney and the Dragons in order to blossom further under Bennett.

“I would love to be coached under him,” Roberts said of Bennett.

“Last year I had a good year so staying in Brisbane is the best option for me.

“They are a special team with a special coach.”

Roberts said he looked forward to combining with Brisbane’s 2015 revelation, young pivot Anthony Milford.

“He’s exciting to watch. I can’t wait to run off him,” he said.

Bennett also couldn’t wait.

“He (Roberts) has got that X-factor,” he said.

“We have always had one of those players here.

“Anthony Milford has probably got that factor too, all the good teams have got one.

“They have got to do the team thing but they can make the difference.”

Bennett liked what he had seen so far from Roberts, even when battling in a pre-season time trial.

“He’s obviously not an endurance athlete – the good ones never are,” Bennett laughed.

“It’s about the power and the agility he has.

“If you put Justin Hodges and Steve Renouf into that they would have run the same time I reckon.

“That was reassuring for me to see that.”

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
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