James Roberts was right to walk away from a “deceitful” Gold Coast over an NRL contract forgery bungle, according to Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett.
But Bennett said he could understand why the Titans were feeling jealous after Roberts’ departure.
Brisbane centre Roberts will play against his former side for the first time in Friday night’s NRL derby on the Gold Coast.
Roberts ruffled feathers at the Titans with his off-season decision to leave after it emerged a senior Titans staff member had forged the centre’s signature on a re-worked clause in the player’s contract.
Titans veteran Greg Bird had claimed the once troubled Roberts had used the forgery bungle as a convenient excuse to leave the rebuilding Gold Coast after it had “turned his career around”.
But Bennett defended Roberts’ decision on Thursday.
“It wasn’t James’ fault what happened, no one should look at James,” he said.
“If you had the situation he had we would have all walked away from our contracts – you would take that opportunity.
“It was pretty deceitful what happened, he was affected by that.”
Titans coach Neil Henry had the right to be the most disgruntled after Roberts cheekily claimed in the pre-season he had learned more in his first two weeks under Bennett than he had in two years at the Gold Coast.
Henry was still not impressed when reminded by Roberts’ comment on Tuesday.
“Jimmy has a habit of saying the first thing that comes into his head and that was an example,” he said.
Bennett said on Thursday he could empathise with a frustrated Henry over Roberts’ departure.
“I can understand Neil’s position with it,” he said.
“A bit of envy and jealousy comes into all that as well because you are envious he is not there anymore.
“And you are jealous of what he can bring and you’d like to have it in your team.”
Meanwhile, Bennett also confirmed backs Corey Oates (shoulder), Jordan Kahu (shoulder), Jack Reed (eye) had been cleared for the derby.
Kahu raised eyebrows when he emerged at training on Thursday wearing a neck brace but Bennett said that was “just for show”.