Jeers from a resentful Gold Coast home crowd will only fuel Brisbane’s NRL excitement machine James Roberts, claims Broncos veteran Sam Thaiday.
Roberts is set to play against his former club for the first time on Friday night and a hostile reception from ex-teammates and supporters is anticipated after his controversial off-season departure.
His decision to void his contract due to a forged signature and join neighbours Brisbane was a stinging blow for Gold Coast and a fanbase just getting over the Daly Cherry-Evans backflip.
But Thaiday is adamant Roberts will thrive on being the centre of attention this week.
“I think he’s one of those players who actually relishes the pressure of it all,” Thaiday told AAP on Monday.
“Bring it on, keep on talking about him. It will only motivate him even more.
“That will just feed him and fuel what he wants to do and achieve at the Brisbane Broncos and that’s be a really successful player in a successful team.”
Roberts might be quick with a one-liner – like his “Oxford Street” quip after Brisbane’s opening round win over Parramatta – but he is notoriously media-shy and gave little away himself at the team’s media session on Monday at Red Hill.
He insisted Friday night would be “just another club game” and he felt the same way he would before playing any other team.
Thaiday said his reluctance in front of cameras shouldn’t be taken for a lack of confidence.
“Yeah, he’s not overly confident doing the media side of things, but the way he presents himself, the way he trains around us, he is a very, very confident man,” he said.
“I’m sure he’s looking forward to the chance to play against his old club.”
Roberts played his best game for Brisbane on the weekend, scoring his debut try in Broncos colours in the thrilling win over North Queensland to go with three line breaks, presenting as a consistent attacking threat for the first time.
“He’s really struggled coming to the Broncos, he’s been trying to find his place in our team and I think he did that on the weekend,” Thaiday said.
“He came up with some fantastic runs when we really needed someone in the outside backs to stand up.
“He’s got all that drama and that struggle out of his head about finding his place in our team now. He’s just got to do that week in, week out.”