Roberts reaps benefits of mature head

It’s close to treason in rugby league circles.

But aspiring NSW State of Origin flyer James Roberts credits the laidback Queensland lifestyle with helping to turn around his wayward NRL career.

The 22-year-old, who made his debut for South Sydney in 2011, was in danger of squandering his talent after being sacked by the Rabbitohs and Penrith for a series of off-field misdemeanours.

He was handed a lifeline by the Gold Coast last year and after a barnstorming start to the 2015 season has played himself into the representative frame and will run out for NSW City against Country in Wagga Wagga on Sunday.

After eight rounds, Roberts is equal leader on the NRL try-scoring list after touching down nine times and earmarked as a potential future State of Origin player.

Roberts said he realised some hard truths after being shown the door by Penrith for smashing a taxi window on a night out – that he needed to escape the rat race of Sydney and get fitter.

“I’ve really grown up over the past few years and I had my up and downs,” he said.

“But I’ve learnt from that and I’m a lot more mature than I was when I was getting in trouble.

“I wouldn’t change the past for the world but I’m glad it’s behind me.”

The lifeline handed to him by the Titans was just the tonic he needed to escape his circle of serial misbehaviour.

He says living above the border has allowed him to cast off the distractions which plagued him during his early career.

While singing the praises of Queensland might sounds odd coming from one of NSW’s brightest young stars, he says the sea change has played a big part in his revival.

After arriving at Titans headquarters with a more mature head on his shoulders, he realised he was not fit enough for NRL football and went about getting himself into shape.

“It’s a lot more chilled out lifestyle,” he said of Queensland.

“It’s not like the rat race in the city.

“That was one of the main reasons I went up there, to get away from my friends and just focus on myself.”

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