Roberts guaranteed Broncos centre spot
New Broncos recruit James Roberts will be given every opportunity to make the right centre position vacated by Justin Hodges his own with coach Wayne Bennett insisting he will keep the faith.
With Jordan Kahu waiting literally on the wing and having anointed Dale Copley as Hodges' likely successor at the start of pre-season training in November, Bennett has now guaranteed the spot will be Roberts' in Round 1 and for the weeks that follow.
Such as he did with Anthony Milford to begin the 2015 campaign, Bennett said on Roberts' first day at his new club that the 22-year-old will be given time to find his feet and make the necessary adjustments to the Broncos' style of football without the pressure of being selected each week.
"It was a bit like Anthony when he came here," Bennett said. "Everyone thought Anthony was going to do this and do that from day one and there was a fair bit of criticism on Anthony and I expect the same with James.
"I expect that he'll take a little while to settle in and get used to what we want and how we want to do it but he'll be great, he'll be really good.
"He'll get there and if it doesn't happen for us in week one or week five or week six he'll be still in the team."
Playing five-eighth on a regular basis for the first time in his NRL career last season, Milford was handed the famous Broncos No.6 jersey worn by the likes of club legends Wally Lewis, Kevin Walters and Darren Lockyer with the assurance that it was his to keep.
Even in the face of criticism early in the season when the Broncos attack struggled to come together as a cohesive unit Bennett kept the faith and was rewarded by a grand final performance that was arguably the best on ground.
"We stuck with [Milford] when everyone was telling that he wasn't going to be a five-eighth or whatever else he wasn't going to do but in the end he was our best player and James will be in the same boat," Bennett said.
"He'll be in first grade and he's a professional, he knows what's required and he'll want to deliver that. It just might take a little bit of time."
Given the Christmas break the Roberts contract has yet to be officially signed off by the NRL and it is believed at least one player will have to make way before anything is rubber-stamped.
Centre Dale Copley has been the player linked with a possible move from Brisbane but Bennett said that it was a decision the club was still working through.
"Well that's a decision we've got to make right now but that decision hasn't been made and we're just looking at what we can do and what we can't do," he said.
Left centre Jack Reed is expected to miss the first month of the season following off-season shoulder surgery with the likes of Jordan Kahu, Corey Oates and Lachlan Maranta all vying for a place in the three-quarter line for the season-opening Round 1 clash with the Eels at Parramatta Stadium.