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James Roberts was a standout for the Titans against the Wests Tigers.

Most would describe this week's Titans as being under-strength underdogs, some might go as far as to say they're unrecognisable.  

But not the Penrith Panthers. 

Not with four former teammates named on the opposition's team sheet on Saturday. And certainly not when one of them is a speed demon that winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak considers "the fastest in the comp".

Penrith are well aware of the threat Titans centre James Roberts' poses on a rugby league field, seeing as though he scorched NRL surfaces for them throughout the 2013 season – including a hat-trick in their Holden Cup grand final victory. 

Watene-Zelezniak played alongside Roberts that day, and credits part of his rise to his once troubled ex-teammate. 

"He's a good mate of mine. He taught me a lot with what to expect going up into first grade, playing with him in 2013 in the 20s," Watene-Zelezniak said. 

"His advice was to just do what I usually do, have confidence and not to think that just because you're not a first grader [or] it you're first game, that you don't have the ability to do what you usually do."

The 19-year-old winger played just 10 games in his rookie season, but has already declared his former mentor as the quickest player in the NRL. 

"For me, I reckon he's the fastest in the comp. By a mile," he said. 

Over 40 metres? Or 100 meters? 

"Over anything. He's a bullet," he said. 

Roberts was sacked by the Panthers early last season after a reported off-season incident. It was the second time in his career he was given his marching orders, after being let go by South Sydney in 2012 for breaching his contract. 

But Watene-Zelezniak said Roberts had settled in on the Gold Coast and is now making the most of his opportunity. 

"I get to talk to him every now and again through [Penrith's indigenous welfare officer, Glen Liddiard] here. I get to hear about what he's up to and he's doing really well for the Titans. I'm happy for him," he said. 

Roberts was joined by new recruits Matt Robinson, Ryan Simpkins and Kierran Moseley at the Titans over the summer, the latter of which has impressed mightily in his rise as starting hooker. 

Penrith lock Elijah Taylor said it was a "smart" move for the promising rake, and predicted the Queenslander under-20s representative would have a long career ahead of him.

"When he made his debut [for Penrith], he played really well against Manly," he said.

"It was a smart thing for his decision to go to the Titans because we've got Api [Koroisau] now and it would've been hard for him to get a crack. He'll be a fulltime first grader this year, if there's no injuries, because he's got a lot of skill and he's got a good attitude."

Acknowledgement of Country

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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