Family loyalty torn by Broncos-Titans derby
When Tyrone Roberts signed to play for the Gold Coast Titans this season he dreamed of playing in an NRL Finals Series alongside his cousin James.
Inseparable as kids growing up in Ballina, when pre-season training began the pair started plotting ways they would pick apart opposition defences, the crafty five-eighth dreaming up ways to unleash the speedster who would be on his outside.
But on Friday night the pair will line up opposite each other for the fifth time in the NRL with James endeavouring to repeat his two-try effort against the Titans in Round 5 and Tyrone out to end the season of his cousin and his Broncos teammates.
Tyrone and James both took part in the Titans' pre-season Army camp last November but when they returned a contract dispute where James's signature was alleged to have been forged broke out and his future at the club was suddenly uncertain.
With the contract deemed null and void, James explored his options and Tyrone told NRL.com that he encouraged him to prematurely break up their combination and join the Broncos.
"We spoke about it and I told him that he had to do what was best for him and his family. It's the decision you have to make," Roberts said.
"I made that tough decision to leave Newcastle and I did that for my family and I told him that I was there for him if he ever needed me.
"I'm always going to be there for him.
"Me and him grew up together and we wanted to play with each other and being a half you want a centre like that outside you.
"It was a big move [to the Titans] and I wanted to play with him and our families wanted us to play with each other but everything happens for a reason."
James told Tyrone a fortnight ago that they would meet in the finals and was there sitting alongside his cousin on Sunday when Canberra helped to seal the Titans' finals fate with their big win over the Wests Tigers.
The pair celebrated their finals showdown with dinner at Tyrone's house that night but the banter soon began, 'Jimmy the Jet' feeling cock-a-hoop after scoring a try and setting up two others in Brisbane's 24-14 win over the Roosters on the Friday night.
"We just have a go at each other. He's pretty cocky at the moment," said Tyrone, who missed the Round 5 clash with the Broncos through injury where James scored the opening try of the game in Brisbane's 24-16 win.
All told they have played against each other four times in the NRL since 2013 with Tyrone enjoying bragging rights with three wins from his time at Newcastle.
His combination with rookie half Ashley Taylor has been one of the major contributors to Gold Coast's success this season and according to Roberts has helped him to rediscover his love for the game.
The 25-year-old moved from Ballina to Newcastle when he was just 14 years of age and said the move to the Gold Coast has been good for his game and his family.
There have been rumours linking him with a possible move to the Eels next season but Roberts insists he wants to remain a Titan long-term.
"I've played some good footy this year and I love the game again," Roberts said.
"Everything got to me in Newcastle. Fans, we weren't winning games, stuff like that.
"It takes a toll on you. I don't really have much media stuff but you hear a lot of stuff and it puts you back.
"I think that's what contributes to some of the depression stuff that happens in the NRL.
"Once I knew I was coming back home it was a relief and I'm happy. The family's here and happy.
"I haven't spoken to anyone or anything about going anywhere.
"I just want to concentrate on the finals and playing some good football with the boys that have been here all year."