Kata determined to close down Roberts
Warriors centre Solomone Kata knows he had arguably the best game of his short career last week, terrorising a Roosters right-edge containing Blake Ferguson and Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
He also knows that will mean nothing this Saturday night against one of the Telstra Premiership's fastest and most elusive players in James Roberts, who he will mark up on at Cbus Super Stadium.
The top attacking weapon for the Warriors in their 25-21 loss to the Roosters, Kata scored two tries, set up another and ran for 134 metres, finishing the game with 73 NRL Fantasy points.
But in Round 15 it will be all about his efforts on the other side of the ball, lining up opposite 22-year-old Roberts who has 13 tries in as many games this year, with nine line breaks and an average of 111 run metres.
"I played against James Roberts in the Holden Cup in 2013, but we were on opposite sides back then so I didn't mark up on him," Kata told NRL.com.
"I think he is the fastest in the NRL and I know I can never let him get on my outside.
"I know about Roberts, you really need to have your inside covered… I trust Chad [Townsend] on my inside that he is going to have him and push him.
"I think that was probably one my best games last week.
"I have been trying to support every time, I learned from the previous week's game that I need to support better, and that has helped me a lot."
Tongan international Kata drew praise from coach Andrew McFadden for his most recent performance, not only in attack but also the way in which he closed down former State of Origin centre Ferguson for the majority of the contest.
"A similar job to what he did with Ferguson last week," was McFadden's answer when asked what Kata would have to do this week against Roberts.
"I thought he [Kata] was terrific against a very high quality player last week.
"With Roberts you have got to handle him as a team because he comes back through the middle as well as out wide."
Defence has been Kata's biggest weakness in an otherwise solid rookie season, averaging two missed tackles per game and struggling at times to adapt to life on the left edge, after playing all his previous footy on the right.
"When I made the move to the left side Manu [Vatuvei] was the one who always had me during the game," Kata said.
"The communication between him and I on the left is getting better and better every game, Manu has helped my game a lot.
"I didn't find the change of sides hard on attack at all, but on defence when I first moved I was struggling, I think because I wasn't talking enough.
"Right now it's getting easier though, I have been learning to stay square and work with Manu and Hoffy [Ryan Hoffman].
"For this week I will just worry about my defence, that's all that's important to me.
"I can't let Roberts get the better of me, I need to watch where he goes when he runs to the middle and make sure the middles know he is coming in. That will help them a lot.
"We have to find him wherever he goes."
Former Rabbitoh and Panther Roberts comes into the clash against the Warriors following one of his finest games this season, tearing the Bulldogs apart last Sunday with a brace of tries, 103 run metres and three line breaks.