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Sacked Panthers winger James Roberts will not face additional scrutiny before he can sign with a new NRL club. Copyright: Robb Cox/NRL Photos
Wayward winger James Roberts will not be subjected to any additional scrutiny should the sacked Panthers star be offered an NRL contract by a new club.

Roberts was on the Gold Coast on Monday to open discussions with the Titans and with close family ties in Albert Kelly already at the club and additional family living in and around the Gold Coast area, the Titans are the early front-runners to secure his services.

After a string of disciplinary indiscretions led to his sacking from South Sydney in 2012, Roberts was thrown a lifeline and appeared to have turned his life around at Penrith. Injuries restricted him to just six appearances, which happened to include scoring a hat-trick against the Titans.

The 21-year-old broke his ankle at training in January and while he was sacked by the Panthers three weeks ago for further off-field incidents, is not the subject of an investigation by the NRL Integrity Unit and needs no special clearance to have a contract registered.

If signed by the Titans, the contract would be submitted to the salary cap auditor who will determine whether the terms of the contract are reflective of what he is deemed to be worth and whether he is a 'fit and reasonable person' before any contract is registered.

These are the same terms that all NRL contracts are registered under and Titans coach John Cartwright is hopeful that the club will be able to facilitate the fulfilment of his extraordinary talent.

"He's a rare talent and he's got some family here at the club," Cartwright said. "He's got some things he needs to deal with first but as far as his football goes, he's a rare talent."

During his time at the Rabbitohs Roberts was named in the under-20s team of the year, played in the under-20s grand final in 2010 and played 10 first grade games in 2011 but the club was never able to curtail his off-field behaviour.

It came to the point where Sam Burgess took him in and had Roberts staying with him at his luxury apartment but that arrangement came to an end when Roberts walked out.

One person spoke to with extensive knowledge of Roberts' behavioural issues admitted that while he is unquestionably a freakish talent, any club that offered him a contract was taking "a pretty big risk".

Aware of the gamble the club may be about to take, Cartwright said it will be up to Roberts as to whether he ever plays in the NRL again, for the Titans or any other club.

"We try to provide an environment where they can enjoy their football, but the onus is back on the player once he gets here," said Cartwright. "It's not just about football, it's about their life. They've got to get their life in order in order to play their best footy.

"There are enough guys with enough experience here to be able to help them with the problems that they have.

Sometimes when you get to that stage of your career it is a fact of saying, 'This may be my last chance,' and we've been fortunate with the guys that have come here under those circumstances.

"We think that we can help James. He has spent a fair bit of time here growing up, he's got some family in and around the Gold Coast and he has some friends here at the club. And we have a great guy like Preston Campbell who works with the Titans 4 Tomorrow program and is accessible to us as a footy department with guys in similar positions to James.

"I just think we're a well-equipped club to handle what's going to be thrown at him."
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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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