Roberts reunion a Titans trump card
It's been more than 15 years since they last played together but James and Tyrone Roberts insist they have an innate understanding of each other's games that can't be taught.
The partnering of the Roberts cousins on the Titans' right edge shapes as one of the major benefits of Tyrone's signing from Newcastle on a two-year deal.
Until Tyrone moved to Newcastle at 14 years of age the pair practically grew up together in Ballina, starting their football together in the Ballina Seagulls under-7s despite James being two years Tyrone's junior.
Soon after Tyrone went up in age groups as James stayed behind to dominate kids his own age but reunited on the Gold Coast they told NRL.com that their combination will bring something special to a Titans attack that was at times brilliant in 2015 but scored more points than only the Panthers and Dragons.
"It's a different type of footy mate that you can't teach," James says.
"You can't teach that," Tyrone adds.
"Hopefully we'll see that over the next year," says James.
"You'll just have to wait and see; can't give away too many secrets just yet," says Tyrone.
"You might see a bit of it at the Nines."
But these boys go far beyond shared time on a football field.
As he endured a difficult youth James would use his cousin's house as something of a sanctuary, and he wasn't alone.
Friends and relatives would all converge on Tyrone's house and from there they would set off and do what boys of that age do.
"Every day," Tyrone replies when asked how often he and James would hang out. "A lot of boys who grew up together, they would just all come around home. They'd come around home, a big group of them and we'd go and terrorise Ballina.
"We played backyard footy, tips, fishing, walk all the way to the beach, go into Woolworths on the way back home...
"Everything was free," James quips, laughing.
"We didn't have much money back then," adds Tyrone.
Soon after the Daly Cherry-Evans backflip left the Titans short on halves for 2016 James got into the ear of coach Neil Henry in an attempt to get his cousin out of Newcastle and across the border.
At the time Tyrone was contracted to the Knights until the end of the 2016 season but when the club signed Bulldogs half Trent Hodkinson on a three-year deal in July there was an opening for negotiating to begin.
With fond memories of a Gold Coast holiday with his partner and young baby daughter in the previous pre-season – not to mention the chance to play with one of the most exciting talents in the game – Tyrone grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
"We were talking all the way through it. I was trying to get him up here as much as I could, trying to sort out something with Neil," James says.
"It's obviously exciting and I'm really looking forward to next year and playing outside him.
"We're pretty close as a family. Our families are all stoked and can't wait to see us play together. It's just good to have him on board here."
Adds Tyrone: "I think it's a big thing for our families to watch us grow up together and now that we're playing NRL with each other.
"I've got a younger brother who would have loved to have been here too but they're just excited that we're so close to our family and they can come and see us now whenever they want.
"It was just fate. I was up here for a holiday the year before and the missus sort of liked it and when the opportunity came up and James and that was here, it was exciting for me because I was close to my family.
"It's a great way to start a new chapter in my life with the baby girl.
"Everything happens for a reason and it's going to be good, I'm looking forward to it."
The Roberts boys could unleash their Ballina backyard style at the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park on February 6-7 before representing the Indigenous All Stars in Brisbane a week later.
Tyrone made his All Stars debut this year and said after a year in which he equalled the Titans record for most tries in a season that James has earned the right to join him on that stage.
"He deserves it," Tyrone said. "It's a great week and everyone that goes into that camp gets a bit out of it.
"We both know where we come from and if he makes it – and he probably will – he'll enjoy it.
"It's just a great eye-opener for our communities really. All our family will be up from home; can't wait."