Roberts didn’t look motivated for Wynnum-Manly. Image: AAP/Steve Pohlner)
Roberts didn’t look motivated for Wynnum-Manly. Image: AAP/Steve Pohlner)

Roberts takes the easy road out of Brisbane

One of the bonuses about being an exceptional rugby league player is you never have to say you are sorry. You just move on.

For every deal which goes flat there's always another home. Another club. Another offer. Another safety net.

James Roberts is off to South Sydney, the latest stop in a career that has gone Souths, Penrith, the Titans, the Broncos and back to Souths.

And he is only 26.

He will relink with Wayne Bennett who does have a habit of getting the best of him.

People who have seen the duo together say Bennett has a way of easing Roberts' naturally high anxiety levels simply by talking to him.

Joining Souths will no doubt reactivate Roberts' rugby league career, which had drifted off the rails at the Broncos but the regret is he did not stay and fight it out in Brisbane.

His development as a person could only have been enhanced had he stayed at Red Hill, looked adversity in the eye, and stared it down.

Imagine what it would have done to his fragile self-esteem had he bounced back into first grade and shone at the Broncos after his stinging demotion to Wynnum-Manly on Sunday.

It would have been one of the most significant achievements of his career.

 

Wayne Bennett knew how to motivate Roberts’ talent. Image: AAP/Dave Hunt
Wayne Bennett knew how to motivate Roberts’ talent. Image: AAP/Dave Hunt

 

I spoke to him after the Wynnum game and asked his three times whether he was certain to see out his contract with the Broncos and each time he said he was just concentrating on training hard.

Mentally he looked to have moved on. Three days later he has decided to cut and run.

As the final siren sounded at Bishop Park on Sunday he took off his football boots and walked around on the field in his socks for a while before giving his boots away to young fans, a symbolic gesture that he had reached the end of the road north of the border.

 

It’s a loss for Brisbane that they couldn’t get through to Roberts. Image: AAP/Darren England
It’s a loss for Brisbane that they couldn’t get through to Roberts. Image: AAP/Darren England

 

Roberts dropped his bundle this year at the Broncos. The word was his skin fold levels had faded. He was not diligent in his treatment of injuries.

Bennett, who loves a hard case, will no doubt re-stoke the fire which somehow faded this season.

There are split views on what to make of Roberts' exit.

Some may claim, given how well he went under Bennett, he was Anthony Seibold's first failure as a Broncos coach.

 

Rabbitohs fans will be hoping Bennett can once again ignite a mercurial player. Image: AAP/Dan Peled
Rabbitohs fans will be hoping Bennett can once again ignite a mercurial player. Image: AAP/Dan Peled

 

Others will counter that by saying Seibold was trying to introduce a new more accountable culture, was not prepared to give Roberts the latitude Bennett did and deserves praise for boldly dropping one of his key weapons.

Only Roberts would truly know the truth.

Despite its graceless end, Roberts' Broncos career must be deemed a success. He played 79 first grade games - more than twice as many as any of the other clubs he played for and got his first NSW jersey.

Bennett found the key to him once.

The challenge for both of them is to it again.

News Corp Australia


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