Roberts proud to help Close The Gap
A cheeky smile is all it took for dynamic Newcastle halfback Tyrone Roberts to show what this weekend's Close The Gap Round meant to him.
Happy to relay that the Knights haven't lost in their Indigenous jerseys since the initiative started in 2009, the NRL's Close The Gap Round means a hell of lot more to him than the jumper he wears once a year.
Roberts' story as a proud Awabakal tribe ambassador is one not often documented – a privileged position he holds in the local community that he genuinely loves and cares about.
Along with fellow teammate Timana Tahu, Roberts can be seen on the big screen at Hunter Stadium promoting healthy lifestyle choices while elsewhere his ambassadorship sees him encourage healthy life decisions throughout the local indigenous community.
"It is definitely great to play my part. Games in this round bring a lot of awareness for the indigenous population in the Hunter and the Close The Gap Round brings everyone closer together," Roberts told NRL.com after Newcastle's 28-22 win over the Warriors on Sunday.
"Being an ambassador for the health and medical side of things in the Awabakal community, I travel around the Hunter and create awareness for indigenous people and just try and show how they can make better choices in relation to their own health.
"We go to high schools and make sure they are eating right and advertise to indigenous people that they should get medical and health checks regularly. That's our main goal in the community because if they can do that then eventually we can get on top of all the chronic diseases that are common throughout the Aboriginal culture."
Clearly a leader off the field, Roberts is fast becoming a leader on it.
With Newcastle winning six of their past eight games, Roberts has become the lynchpin in the team with chief playmaker Jarrod Mullen missing the past month of football with a stomach muscle tear.
For the 23-year-old, who has played every game for the club this season, it is simply a matter of doing the best he possibly can for his team as he continues his rugby league development.
"When I go out there I'm just trying to do my best to control the team and I think that's what I've been doing well over the past couple of weeks," Roberts said.
"It isn't really hard [to direct the team around]. It is just whether the boys listen or not. At the moment everyone has being playing good and doing their job and listening which has been great."
While the Novocastrians have found form at the 'wrong' end of the season, Roberts doesn't buy into the frustration of perhaps challenging the competition's best come September if they started their run weeks earlier.
After beating likely finals-bound clubs in Melbourne, the Roosters and Warriors, Roberts believes any thoughts of what could have been is well and truly behind them.
"There are no issues there. Sure we should've hit form earlier in the season but now we just want to go out there and play well for the club and win our games," Roberts said.
"We are just taking each week as it comes now. We know we won't make the semi finals but that won't stop us from having a crack. We are planning on just going out there in our last three games to give it our all and make the fans happy."
With a relatively easy draw to come, considering the summits other teams have to climb these next three weeks, Roberts is happy continuing building towards the future. Both on and off the field.