Brisbane’s James Roberts has proven he’s just as fast between the ears as he is with his feet.
Roberts’ mantle as rugby league’s fastest player was challenged by teammate Corey Oates on NRL’s opening night, after the towering winger burned some serious turf in an impressive first half showing.
Twice be broke through Parramatta’s defence in the opening 40 minutes, but it was the second that sent Channel Nine commentators into a frenzy, comparing him to renowned speed demon Roberts.
Asked post-game if Oates could match him for pace, Roberts dead-panned back: “Yeah, he’s pretty fast. But I’ve got more speed than Oxford Street.”
While the comment from the former Gold Coast star drew some mixed reaction on social media, it was his coach who had another retort for the new clubman.
“As long as he’s not on the NRL’s mardi gras float,” Bennett laughed.
“That’s not going to help his speed.”
Roberts had a quiet debut in Broncos colours, carrying the ball just five times for 38 metres. He did get involved in defence however, making more tackles (14) than anyone else in his backline.
He also had one tackle bust.
Oates’ strong showing drew plenty of praise from his coach, who compared the versatile 192-centimetre, 106-kilogram behemoth to some giant wingers of yesteryear.
“Big Mal (Meninga), he was running 11 seconds for 100m when he was 104-105 kilograms. That’s one guy that comes to mind,” Bennett said.
“Gene Miles was another guy. He was a big fella, great speed. Eric Grothe was pretty good, for a big man. (Greg) Inglis, Wendell… oh don’t put Wendell.”
Centre Jordan Kahu came off midway through the first half with a quad complaint and didn’t return, however Bennett said he wasn’t going to rush Jack Reed back from his shoulder injury.
“If Jack’s not fit next week he won’t be playing,” he said.
“That’s in the medical side of things right now – they’ll tell me when he’s ready to play. There’ll be no pressure from to bring him back.”
The Broncos host the Warriors for their home-opener next Friday.