Roberts dreams of following in Renouf's footsteps
James Roberts has spoken of his goal to attain the heights reached by Brisbane Broncos legend Steve Renouf in the wake of a stunning match-winning display against the Sydney Roosters.
And in a touching gesture, Renouf has responded and told Roberts he is backing him to achieve his aim.
After coming off second best in the first half in his enthralling battle with Latrell Mitchell, Roberts won the second half with a classic centre play to set up Jamayne Isaako. He followed that up by beating four Roosters defenders on the outside before slicing back infield in a 70m sprint to the try-line.
After the 28-22 win Roberts said he wanted to follow in four-time premiership winner Renouf's illustrious footsteps.
"He is a Broncos great and the Broncos' best ever centre and that is what I strive to be," Roberts told NRL.com
"I love the club and I am here for a few years now and it is definitely a goal of mine to get onto that level."
Renouf said Roberts was well on his way to accomplishing his own feats.
"Of course he can and I reckon he will," Renouf told NRL.com.
"I had good halves inside me in Kevin Walters and Allan Langer, and guys like Darren Lockyer who would feed me ball. We've just got to remember to keep giving Jimmy clean ball and the rest will happen."
Renouf nearly fell out of his chair when Roberts scored his 70-metre try.
"He did that out of nothing. He just motored. I couldn't believe it when I saw it," Renouf said.
"The best part about that try was when he cut back inside. It is one thing to get outside players but then to glide back in around the fullback was pure speed ... and smart. I tweeted after he scored that try that's it was like under 10s where you just run around them and score untouched.
"Jimmy didn't have a great start against Latrell but it didn't get to him. Then he comes out and does stuff like that. Amazing.
"The try he set up for Isaako came after classic centre play. Latrell got up on the outside of him and rushed him, then Jimmy has stepped back in and left Latrell in no man's land. Then he has turned back out and thrown the pass to Isaako. That was brilliant."
Renouf has predicted that Roberts will break his club record of 142 tries. Roberts said such a challenge was in his sights.
"For someone like Steve to be giving me a rap like that is always good but it is a pretty good record he has got there and it would be hard to run down," Roberts said.
"Who knows what will happen in the future? I see Steve around the club when he does things with the Deadly Choices program and with the Broncs as well and we have a yarn about things.
"There is a big screen at the club and I've seen all the great tries that he's scored in grand finals. They are all pretty good."
Renouf ran 95 metres in the 1992 grand final to score and while Roberts didn't travel as far it was just as electric.
"I just wanted to get some early ball, which I got. I saw a bit of space and I took it," he said.
"As it unfolded it just worked out well. Latrell got me with a couple of good ones earlier and I was lucky to get away with the win and get to even up on him in the second half.
"I spoke to Wayne [Bennett] at half-time about trying to stay calm, getting back to basics and getting into the game with a few tough carries … and just let it pan out."
Pan out it did.