REBORN Panther James Roberts has revealed how his famous Uncle Amos helped steer him towards Penrith when he was just about to sign with Cronulla last summer.
Roberts, sacked by last year by South Sydney for disciplinary breaches, enjoyed a career high on Saturday night with a hat-trick in the 40-18 win over Gold Coast at Darwin’s TIO Stadium.
But he tells Rugby League Week he went within an ace of being a Shark.
“I was really close to signing with the Sharks – then I met Phil Gould,” Roberts, 20 says. “I don’t regret a thing and wouldn’t have liked it to be any other way.”
Roberts was raised by former St George, Eastern Suburbs and Wigan flier Amos and says his uncle’s advice played a big role in the decision to head west. He only stopped living with Amos Roberts this year.
“He’s more like a father,” Roberts said. “He’s always calling me before and after games.
“He left it to me but through his career he’s a good relationship with Gus and he said he’s a good bloke. I trust my uncle and I took his word.
“When I met Gus, I sort of knew what I wanted.”
The final disciplinary breach at Souths for Roberts was causing a disturbance at an adult establishment while wearing club gear*. “I can’t really do anything about that, the past,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to go backwards to go forwards.
“I’ve learned from my mistakes; it won’t happen again.
But the flying wingman has endured a horror start to his tenure at his new club.
“I did my syndesmosis in one of the trials before the season started so I was out for three months,” he says.
“I played two reserve grade games just to get my fitness up and went back into first grade and fractured my eye socket and was out another four weeks.
“It was depressing, especially after last year when I had two arthroscopes on my knee.
“To score three tries in first grade, it was definitely a career highlight for me.”
Coach Ivan Cleary comments: “James is an undoubted talent. He’s shown that in under 20s and in his brief stint in first grade.
“He’s got a ways to go, not just on the field but off the field (where) it’s been well-documented he’s had issues.
“(The Titans game) will only help with his confidence and his role in the team. It was good to see. The second try he scored, not many could have actually got there in time to take the kick.
“That was a real crunch play. It was either a 20 metre tap (to the Titans) or it was a try.”
NB: Since this story appeared, James Roberts has denied he was wearing club gear during the incident.
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK