Deadly duo's All Stars redemption
James Roberts may be on the lookout for his fourth club in the space of five years but Indigenous All Stars forward Sam Thaiday believes a week in camp among senior players will aid his career resurrection.
Roberts is arguably the hottest player currently on the open market with reports that former club South Sydney, St George Illawarra and Brisbane are the clubs leading the race to secure his services for 2016 and beyond.
Despite walking away from the Titans where he scored a club record 16 tries this season due to a contract bungle Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley had no hesitation in naming the 22-year-old to make his All Stars debut at Suncorp Stadium on February 13.
With a star-studded three-quarter line that has Origin and Test experience coursing through each player, Roberts will be used from the bench by Daley, a frightening prospect for the big forwards in Wayne Bennett's World All Stars team.
Having been sacked from both the Rabbitohs and Panthers, Roberts made significant strides in getting his life in order in the past 18 months on the Gold Coast and is the sole debutant named in the Indigenous All Stars team.
The sixth edition of the All Stars concept will also welcome back Roosters centre Blake Ferguson who was forced to sit out the entire 2014 season after a string of off-field incidents.
Ferguson played in the inaugural All Stars match in 2010 and again in 2013 and Thaiday believes both men will benefit from a week in elite company.
"Having those young guys in and around some of the senior players that are in the group – your JTs (Johnathan Thurston), your GIs (Greg Inglis), myself – hopefully we can help those young guys," Thaiday said.
"Make sure they are representing themselves first and foremost to the best of their ability and making sure that they show a respect to our game and make sure that they are putting their best foot forward.
"I give full credit to both those young guys who have had a few hiccups in their careers but have both turned them around so far and are playing some really good footy.
"It will be good to have the guys in the camp."
All Stars founder Preston Campbell told NRL.com recently that he was in no doubt that a week spent with the Indigenous All Stars would be beneficial in Roberts continuing to turn his life around.
"We all hear about his past and we know he had a pretty tough upbringing but a lot of people have a tough upbringing and it takes a strong person or a person that wants to effect change, and he's done that," Campbell said.
"Obviously he's had support and good people around him but he'd be somebody that would benefit so much from this game."
World All Stars coach Wayne Bennett was quick to defuse any speculation linking Roberts with his club side, the Broncos, saying only that "I keep reading about that" and that he had no knowledge of the prospect of Roberts finding a home at Red Hill.
Thaiday also refused to weigh into where Roberts may end up, saying only that he wanted his talents to be showcased somewhere in the NRL.
"I'd like to see him out there on the footy field playing for any team. He's a great young player," Thaiday said.