Roberts welcomed back into Broncos fold
Pre-season can be a great leveller and Brisbane Broncos team-mates took no time in welcoming James Roberts back to the fold.
Roberts arrived for his first day of pre-season training at the University of Queensland's St Lucia campus on Monday morning, completing some gentle running drills alongside Travis Waddell as he recovers from a minor cleanout of his left knee.
Suspended from Brisbane's qualifying final loss to the Cowboys for lashing out with his boot and connecting with Titans forward Ryan Simpkins, Roberts checked himself into a Thai rehabilitation clinic in order to address his ongoing issues with alcohol.
He was in a good mood when he returned to the training park and Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough believes the courage he showed to seek help will translate into an even better year in his second season with the club.
"For a guy to do that, put yourself in Thailand for a month, you're going to be out of your comfort zone," McCullough said on what was also his first day of pre-season.
"Away from your family and your normal surroundings so for him to do that just shows that he wants to improve and be a better person on and off the field.
"If he gets that right I dare say his footy will definitely benefit from that.
"He knows, he doesn't need to be told again, so I think he's more so excited being back amongst the group and trying to play some good football again.
"He seems in a good space, he's here and he looks fit. Jimmy's never one to let himself go as well so he's in a good head space.
"It will take a few weeks after his knee op to get going and I think it will be of benefit for him."
As players from the Sharks and Storm were preparing for the Telstra Premiership Grand Final Roberts was making his way to Thailand, returning to Australia in time to attend the wedding of his cousin, Titans half Tyrone Roberts, on October 22.
"I think he's recovered well," Roberts said. "He came to my wedding and I don't think he had a drop.
"I don't know whether he'd just got off the flight from Thailand where he was but he's got a family now and I think he's changed his ways, which is probably better for him and his family.
"He was happy to see his family, because all his family was at the wedding, but I haven't seen him since so I can't really talk too much about him.
"I haven't caught up with him since after the wedding but I can't wait to. I want to see how he's going, how he's travelling.
"I think he just needed the break from everything at the moment and he'll come back fresh and ready to go."
With the return of McCullough, Roberts, Ben Hunt and Josh McGuire only the Broncos' Four Nations representatives are yet to begin their preparations for 2017 which for the first time this century does not include Corey Parker.
The retirements of Parker and Justin Hodges in the past two seasons has left the future of the Broncos very much in the hands of 'Generation Next' and McCullough is determined to continue the legacy established by the legends of the club.
"Obviously those guys have left a great legacy and the way they've passed on the mantle of trying to compete in regards to training and in our football is obviously something we'd like to try and pass down to the younger guys," said McCullough, who will begin the 2017 season 27 years of age and with 196 games of NRL experience to his name.
"That's how traditions work and those guys have done a tremendous job.
"You learn throughout those years to compete and to know what works and what doesn't.
"It's never easy, it's sometimes boring and hard but that's what makes it the way it is.
"Obviously competing hard in fitness drills or whatever at training is only going to help out and a bit of friendly banter is always good," McCullough added with a grin.