Roberts cousins to fire for Titans in 2016
Their understanding goes all the way back to games of footy in a Ballina backyard and Titans centre James Roberts believes the club's acquisition of his cousin Tyrone Roberts will help take his game to an even higher level.
The Titans announced on Monday that current Knights half Tyrone Roberts would be joining them on a two-year deal from 2016 and a sweetener to the deal is the chance to pair him with one of the most electrifying talents in the NRL today.
Roberts' first full season of first grade has been one of few bright points for a Gold Coast team staring at the prospect of a second wooden spoon and the prospect of the club's top try-scorer in 2015 being even more excited about his footy next year is a tantalising one.
"It will definitely get me a bit more pumped for the game, knowing that one of my brothers that I grew up with is alongside me," said Roberts, who can break the Titans' record for most tries in a season if he scores a 17th four-pointer against the Raiders on Sunday.
"We used to spend a lot of time together. We all grew up playing backyard footy at the back of the house in Ballina. We used to live around the corner and go fishing together, swimming across the lake; it was good fun growing up in Ballina.
"At Christmas time especially and in the off-season I always used to go back to Ballina for holidays and I pretty much stayed at his mum and dad's house more than my own mum and dad's."
Closing in on 100 NRL games, the appeal of Tyrone Roberts for Titans coach Neil Henry was an experienced half in a squad that was set to rely on two rookies in the key playmaking roles but a strong connection with his best attacking weapon is an added bonus.
"I think they might enjoy each other's company on the field and we'll certainly look at that and hopefully they strike up a relationship that is good for the team," Henry told NRL.com.
"I know they're excited to be able to train together and play together in the team. As relatives that's exciting and I'm sure for all the extended family in the background it's good news too.
"He's excited about the opportunity to come north and to be part of a mentoring of some young halves.
"He's not that old himself but at least he's had close to 100 games of experience in the NRL and I think once you get over that 70-80 game mark you start to feel a little more comfortable in how you can play footy and that you can cut it at that level and he's certainly done that.
"He also offers a skill-set that we require with his goal-kicking but also moving towards family. Grafton and Ballina are just down the road and obviously his connection there with James so that's good for the club as well and I think he'll be a good mentor for Jimmy."
Throughout his five years in the NRL at Newcastle Roberts has attracted criticism for falling in and out of games and playing second fiddle to main playmakers such as Jarrod Mullen and Kurt Gidley but Henry doesn't hold such fears for his latest addition.
"Mullen has been such a dominant player there for such a long time and he commands the ball and I suppose Tyrone tended to take the back seat when that was happening, and that can happen," Henry said.
"That happens in clubs but he'll have an opportunity here to take on more responsibility for the direction of the team and I think that's going to be a real positive for him.
"He's got a fair bit of attack about him, he likes to play a style of footy where he does take the line on and he's got a short kicking game as well. His experience and his style of play will really suit us."