A settled Tyrone Roberts insists he won't be handing over his starting spot to wunderkinds Ashley Taylor and Kane Elgey without a fight, believing his leadership attributes will be crucial to the Titans in 2017.
Back for the seventh NRL pre-season of his career after marrying long-time partner Brittany and enjoying a honeymoon in Greece during the break, Roberts is intent to build on one of the more consistent seasons of his career.
Originally intended to partner Elgey in the halves in 2016, Roberts formed a formidable combination with Taylor in quick time and was a key reason for the 21-year-old's breakout rookie year.
Yet despite guiding the Titans to the finals for the first time in six years the return of Elgey from a long-term knee injury has seen many pundits already push Roberts to a spot on the bench, a role he will only accept if the two young guns get the better of him in pre-season.
While Elgey has hit the new training ground at Parkwood International running Taylor remains hidden away in the rehab group after off-season groin surgery, giving Roberts an opportunity to press his claims in front of coach Neil Henry.
"I'm fit and healthy and ready to go and me and Kane are training together at the moment with Ash in rehab. We'll just have to wait until we all get back on the field and get our combinations together," Roberts said.
"Obviously I'm a leader now because I've done a couple of seasons and I was that leader for Ash last year to keep him humble.
"I'm pretty close to both of them and we've just got to make sure that when we do come to February that we're all ready to go.
"They've both got injuries at the moment and we've just got to make sure that they come back and they're confident in what they do.
"They've got talent, they've got great skill but they've just got to be confident with it so they can take it into the game."
A father to young Leilani, Roberts admitted that he "shed a couple of tears" as he married Brittany in October and that he feels mentally "lighter" with his personal life so happy and settled.
It's a far cry from the shy teenager who made the move from Ballina to Newcastle more than a decade ago and who would turn to senior players such as Timana Tahu to talk to the coaching staff on his behalf.
Now, at 25 years of age, Roberts says that he is the player that the younger brigade can come to for advice, particularly the young halves.
"Me and Ash come together pretty quick because of our backgrounds but Kane is at Palm Beach as well so we're pretty close.
"He loves fishing and the same stuff so all I'm doing now is just making sure that he's confident in what he does with his movements.
"They keep me on my toes, which is good. I love competing against them. I'm a bit older but Kane is fit and ready to go and I've just got to make sure that I stay with him and he keeps me on my toes.
"It's much easier for me to talk to young kids and to express my feelings to the coaches.
"If they've got problems the kids can come to me and I can tell the coaches because I don't have a problem talking to coaches now."
Rumours late in the season had Roberts linked with a possible move to Parramatta but the Indigenous All Stars representative says he is keen to be part of the Titans' future, whether he's a starting half or not.
"Off the back of last year the club's building and I want to be a part of it," said Roberts, whose current contract runs out at the end of the 2017 season.
"I was at Newcastle for a long time and I don't really like moving.
"I've got a family now and they love it here and for us it would be a bonus to be staying on for the long term."