Titans intercept-machine James Roberts says while he's still got a lot of learning to do as a footballer, settling into life on the Gold Coast has helped him improve his on-field performances.
Roberts has had well-publicised off-field issues in his young 34-game NRL career, having been cut by both the Rabbitohs and Panthers for alcohol-related incidents and also finding himself in hot water with the Titans late last year.
However the 22-year-old said after his match-winning hat-trick over Parramatta a smoother life off-field was now paying dividends.
"I'm loving it, I look forward to staying there as well," Roberts said of his time on the Gold Coast.
"I'm loving the off-field lifestyle and I've got a missus now. I'm very settled. It's made a big impact on my life."
In the final year of his deal at the Titans, Roberts said he'd love to stay if the club would have him. He's certainly going the right way about getting a new contract, with his seven tries currently the most of any player so this season. His double against the Sharks included the late match-winner, while his two intercepts against the Eels turned the game.
But the man himself believes he still has plenty of learning to do to reach his potential.
"I've still got a bit to go. Match fitness and still working on that at training," he said, adding personal maturity had also helped him develop his game.
"It comes with age as well, I've grown out of the teenage mentality where I think everything's going to fall into place for me. I know I've got to work hard which I'm doing. I'm trying to improve myself day to day."
His coach Neil Henry had earlier praised the dynamic centre but also cautioned there was plenty of work still to do.
"He's developing; he knows he's got a fair bit to learn working on his defence," Henry said. "There's no doubt he's got some raw ability, he's quick, he's elusive and he's strong and he gets us a fast play the ball a lot of times as well.
"It was nice to see him do the little in and away and give Meady [winger David Mead] an opportunity to score a try to so he's got that ability, that football sense, to do that... he's a kid that's really knuckled down and worked hard and got a pre season in and getting the benefit of that."
Henry said Roberts' previous off-field issues hadn't been a factor.
"That's been talked about – he's been fine and working hard with us. He seems fairly settled on the coast and enjoying his time at the moment and enjoying his football."
Titans skipper Nate Myles said he had been relieved that Roberts had been able to take some pressure off the forwards.
"For him to get in the middle of us, it does help when you're in the middle gasping for air and Jimmy's got the ball in his hands – it's very rare someone's going to run him down," Myles said.
"It's good for Jimmy that he's putting himself in that position now. He's improving day in day out – I don't think he does know how good he is but it's a work in progress for Jimmy and it's good to see he's moving the right way."