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Titans fullback Tyrone Roberts.

Growing up a rugby league obsessed kid in Coffs Harbour, my sole aim in life was to emulate Craig Coleman and play halfback for South Sydney. 

That and scoring dashing hundreds for Australia in the summer. 

When we did screen printing in primary school I brought in a white T-shirt and put a bunny on the left chest, emblazoned Smith's Crisps across the front and added a big No.7 on the back. 

I was once chastised for doing the 'bushman's hanky' playing against my brothers on the front lawn, my plea that "Craig Coleman does it" not an argument that carried much weight with Mum. 

I watched 'Tugger' in action whenever I could, whether it was Saturday's ABC game or the State Bank Big Game on Sundays and had posters of my South Sydney heroes plastered all over my walls.

I dreamt of travelling to Sydney for an under-18s open trial just so that I could go through life saying that I once trialled with South Sydney.

This was not how Tyrone Roberts learnt to play rugby league. 

While I was glued to the TV, Roberts was already outside working on his skills, unencumbered by any preconceived notions of how the game should be played. 

Never in my life would I have considered throwing a reverse spiral flick pass on the first tackle 20m out from my own line; Roberts did it in front of 35,000 people at Suncorp Stadium against the Broncos in Round 7. 

He didn't do it because he had watched his hero do it in his formative years; he did it because in his formative years playing the game was what consumed his life.

"When I was in Forster I was playing on the mission. It was just natural. We're all talented Indigenous people and I just picked it up I guess," said Roberts.

"I moved around a lot as a kid. I lived in a caravan park for a while and we just played our football. Everyone knew football, it was just in the backyard with all the cousins.

"When I was six in Forster, that's when I first started playing junior rugby league. It was the only thing I knew how to play."

The Roberts blood is rich in rugby league history. Tyrone's uncle Roger Roberts represented the Australian Schoolboys in 1986 alongside the likes of Brad Clyde, John Cartwright and Andrew Gee; Amos Roberts played 177 NRL games for the Panthers, Roosters and Dragons and now Tyrone, James and Tyronne Roberts-Davis are flying the family's footballing flag in the NRL.

Tyrone's father, John Irwin, saw the talent in his son at a young age and signed him up to play in Forster before Tyrone moved to Ballina where his footballing education continued with the Seagulls.

Not that there was much talk of completion rates or defensive structures.

"When I was playing local in Ballina it was just doing whatever you wanted," says the 25-year-old who has become the Titans' Mr Fix-It in 2017.

"Once I got to Newcastle they sort of structure you and let you know how to play your position. I was just lucky enough to play a certain amount of positions at the time.

"I was five-eighth when I was at Ballina then I went to fullback when I was in Newcastle and then I went into the halves again when I went into the Newcastle [Knights] system."

Former Manly back-rower Tom Symonds gained some social media traction when he suggested skill is coached out of players when they get to the NRL on the back of John Asiata's display as Johnathan Thurston's substitute for the Cowboys against the Dragons.

Roberts' pass for Anthony Don's try against the Broncos was pure instinct born out of hours of unstructured play growing up but even he admits that talent will be wasted if it is not accompanied by hard work.

"Talent does get you a long way but you've got do all the little things as well to get you the rest of the way," said Roberts, who was rewarded for his strong start to the season with a Country Origin jersey on Sunday.

"As an Indigenous kid not many people move away from the communities and I just felt it was an opportunity I had to take and I did it.

"When I debuted all the family was happy and my dad was always proud of me that I was able to play that many games."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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