Roberts begins new life as a Bronco
There were few familiar faces but James Roberts comfortably fitted into his new life as a Brisbane Bronco on Monday, even joking that after three previous clubs he is accustomed to starting from scratch.
The Broncos kicked off 2016 with a full complement following the return to training of their Kiwi contingent and the addition of Roberts who only agreed to terms to join Brisbane two days prior to Christmas after a falling out with the Titans over a contract bungle.
Coach Wayne Bennett did the introductions as Roberts met the likes of Jordan Kahu, Josh McGuire, Corey Parker and Alex Glenn, the 22-year-old Dally M Centre of the Year revealing that former Panthers junior Sam Scarlett was the only current Bronco with whom he had played alongside previously.
Courted by a number of other NRL clubs after conciliatory talks with the Titans eventually broke down in November, Roberts said the lure of playing under Bennett in a star-studded Broncos team far outweighed more lucrative contracts on offer elsewhere.
"Money was never the dilemma. It's the lifestyle and where I'm going to be most happy off the field," Roberts said.
"It's a bit closer to home at the moment and the Queensland lifestyle fits perfectly for me.
"As of last year I had a good year and good lifestyle so staying in Brisbane's probably the best option for me.
"It's a special team and a special coach. There are plenty of special players in the club and he's a special coach and I'd love to be coached under him."
An unexpected Christmas present, Bennett said that Roberts' decision to sign with Brisbane for less money indicated that he was the type of player that he wanted to bring into the club and that he has the chance to turn a two-year deal into a "lifetime" contract.
"It was totally unexpected, it wasn't part of our plans but the opportunity arose and we didn't want to miss that opportunity," said an obviously delighted Bennett.
"We grabbed it and fortunately he made a decision to come here and we're very grateful for that.
"He did have a lot of choices and he had quality clubs as well so it wasn't a case of looking and not being able to go to a quality place.
"We're very appreciative of that and I hope that we can deliver for him what he wants and he can be the player that we all want to see and enjoy watching him play.
"We do see him as a life contract here now. He's been to two or three clubs now but as we've done with our players in the past once they perform and play to their potential then they have no fear about their futures.
"He came here for the right reasons. He did have better offers, there's no doubt about that, but he came here because of the lifestyle and the quality of the club and I like that part about it because he realises that he needs to settle down now and make some good choices and good decisions.
"We hope that he has a long future here and that he brings the qualities that we know he has to the team. It is a wonderful day for us."
Having been sacked by both the Rabbitohs and Panthers for disciplinary breaches and then resurrecting his career with 21 tries in 36 games for the Titans, Roberts too hopes that this will be the last time he has a first day at a new club.
"I intended to do that at the Gold Coast but things didn't happen the way I'd planned so hopefully I can start off fresh here and finish off here," he said.
This video first appeared at Broncos.com.au