Roberts plots to secure halves spot
Their combination in the halves played a major role in the Titans' charge to a finals berth last season and now a determined Tyrone Roberts wants to help take the pressure off Ashley Taylor and in the process stake his claim for a permanent return to the five-eighth position.
Named last week to face the Wests Tigers, Roberts was a late withdrawal due to a shoulder injury that has kept him sidelined since Round 13 but he is confident he will be able to run out alongside Taylor and his Titans teammates against the Dragons at Cbus Super Stadium on Friday night.
For the first 15 games they were paired together last season the Titans had nine wins and one draw to climb into seventh position and their only opportunity to reunite this season saw Gold Coast record a 16-12 win over the Sharks in Cronulla in Round 8.
The team's Mr Fix-It having played hooker, fullback and five-eighth already this season, Roberts is desperate to prove he should have been Taylor's halves partner all along and knows that a strong showing against the Dragons will make it hard for coach Neil Henry to split them up again.
Given the injuries to Roberts and Kane Elgey in recent weeks the playmaking pressure has fallen squarely on the shoulders of 22-year-old Taylor, a pressure 26-year-old Roberts is only too happy to share.
"I think I just make it easier for him to play his own game," Roberts said of the influence he can have on Taylor.
"Hopefully we get to see that this week and move on and try and get a couple of wins together coming into the back-end, put us in good shape for the finals.
"It's the second year after a good year last year so there's always going to be that pressure on you. I just made sure that there was less pressure on him last year so he could play his own game.
"This year there's definitely a lot more pressure being the second year and I just make sure he's in a calm state.
"With all the injuries and all the different positions people are playing it's a lot more to put on his shoulders to get the team around the park.
"Hopefully I can change that and make it easier for him to play his own game."
Off-contract at the end of the season, Roberts has been able to prove his worth to the team in a variety of different ways but certainly sees himself as a half first and foremost.
Such were his performances at fullback when Jarryd Hayne was injured that the New South Wales Origin star was selected at left centre when he returned to the squad and Roberts said he had to take on the challenges that were presented to him.
"He gave me a job to be a utility this year and I've embraced it," Roberts said.
"I couldn't complain much because he had Elgey and Ash there. He had to make that decision.
"I just make sure that whatever position I do play I don't let the team down.
"I can't really make decisions, I'm not the coach. I just do whatever he says.
"I haven't been out there for the last three or four weeks so I'm just happy to get back out there and be part of the team."
With Elgey still troubled by a sternum injury Henry handed Jamal Fogarty his NRL debut last week against the Wests Tigers but is thankful to have Roberts back in the mix against the sixth-placed Dragons.
"Jamal was solid on debut and did his job but Tyrone's experience out on the field will certainly add a bit of zip to our attack and he's a really good kicking option for us as well," Henry said.