Robust Roberts' happy Newcastle homecoming
Titans halfback Tyrone Roberts was never going to miss out on his Newcastle return.
A knee injury suffered three weeks ago against the Sharks threatened the very game Roberts had circled on his calendar a long time ago.
Roberts – who moved from Ballina to Newcastle as a 16-year-old to assist his education – admitted his nerves over running on to Hunter Stadium without a Knights jersey on his back.
Though not even a bout of butterflies or his busted knee would stop him from leading the way in the Titans' 20-point win.
Newcastle coach Nathan Brown revealed post-game that Roberts was the "fifth-highest paid player for the Knights" who played on Saturday afternoon, with the club releasing him last year due to Trent Hodkinson's impending arrival.
Roberts said he holds no grudges over how his time at the Knights ended. In fact, the 25-year-old is the happiest he's been since his NRL debut in 2011.
"I have a soft spot for the Knights but I'm happy, I'm loving my football and the way I'm playing currently," Roberts told NRL.com.
"But you ask any player who comes up against their old club, you just want to get a win so I'm happy that happened.
"I've improved by leaps and bounds at the new club and together with all the good blokes here we're just working our way up."
With usual halves partner Ash Taylor set to return for next weekend's clash against the Panthers, Neil Henry has the welcome headache of trying to find a place in the side for Jarryd Hayne.
Roberts refused to speculate over the make-up of the Titans' halves next week which was probably a good thing because his coach had no idea either.
"Jarryd's had a couple of goes in the halves now but if we feel Ash Taylor and Tyrone are our halves then Jarryd will move," Henry said post-game.
"He's filled in there nicely and it was about getting time into his legs as well. If he takes on the fullback role, he has to cover a lot of ground. It's a demanding position and we want to make sure that he can go out there and handle it.
"We all know it's his preferred position and he's a great player back there, but for the balance of the team there's no need to change things from the guys who have been doing the job all year," he added.
"So we'll need to look at it. We have that [three into two] situation in front of us now and it's a good position to be in."
Kane Elgey's season-ending knee injury in the pre-season saw Roberts and Taylor handed the keys to the Titans' fortunes from the get-go.
24 weeks on, the Titans are all but a fortnight away from their first finals appearance in six years.
"We're pretty close, Ash and I. We share bags, we share everything," Roberts laughed.
"He's a talented kid and he has a good head on his shoulders. We need that coming into the semis and hopefully he can play at 100 per cent each week."