Rabbitohs must keep the 'Jet' grounded
After a slow start to the season, Broncos centre James Roberts is starting to play the sort of footy that keeps opposition defences awake at night worrying about whether it's even possible to stop the man dubbed 'Jimmy the Jet'.
The 24-year-old is coming off a freakish performance against the Titans that saw him score a hat-trick, produce two line breaks, set up a try, run for 182 metres and break 11 tackles against his former side.
It's those sorts of numbers that saw him make the NYC Team of the Year in 2011 when he was at the Rabbitohs, and current South Sydney prop Kyle Turner is still in awe of what his former teammate was able to produce on the footy field.
"I remember in the 20s all you had to do was give him the ball and he would create something out of nothing," Turner told NRL.com.
"There was a game in the finals when he got the ball near the dead-ball line and then just stepped past a few blokes and next thing you know he's over celebrating a try. It just goes to show how quick he is and that you have to be on your game to contain him.
"He's got that natural ability to create something out of nothing."
Turner said the key to stopping a player like Roberts was to work as a cohesive unit in defence; something he admits his side failed to do at times during last week's loss to the Bulldogs.
"You can't defend him individually – you've got to do it as a team – because he's a force to be reckoned with," Turner said.
"Against the Bulldogs there were a few occasions where we tried to do stuff individually and they made us pay. We've got to make sure we do it as a team and work as a line to make sure there are no gaps for him to exploit."
Friday's clash at ANZ Stadium is a crunch game for the Bunnies who will be desperate to bounce back after letting a half-time lead slip against the Bulldogs on Good Friday.
It was a frustrating loss for the Rabbitohs who were in control for large chunks of the contest until the Bulldogs raced in two tries in the space of three minutes to flip the game on its head.
It's those momentary lapses that are hurting the Rabbitohs, and Turner said his side needed to compete for the full 80 minutes if they were to stand a chance against a Broncos side that has looked the real deal in recent weeks.
"We really need to step up now. We've shown signs of what we can do but we're not performing for the 80 minutes," he said.
"The effort is there – you can't fault anyone's effort in the team – but it's just little lapses of concentration where we let each other down for one play and it's coming back to bite us on the scoreboard.
"It's just an attitude thing so it's something that we can fix really easily. We need to prepare for an 80-minute game because the Broncos won't go away."