Roberts celebrates baby daughter plus NSW call-up
Brisbane centre James Roberts has two big reasons to celebrate after welcoming a baby daughter just days before being called into the NSW Blues squad for his likely State of Origin debut.
The 25-year-old flyer will be officially named in Brad Fittler’s extended squad on Monday night for the Holden State of Origin series opener in Melbourne on June 6 after hitting form at just the right time.
Roberts said after Thursday night’s 18-10 win over the Eels that he would be "one hundred per cent ready to go" after aggravating an Achilles injury and leaving the field in the 61st minute.
Scans cleared him of any damage and revealed he had nothing more than soreness.
His elevation to the Blues squad comes nine days after his partner Anna Jovanovic gave birth to their second child.
After scoring a scintillating 70-metre try and setting one up in the 28-22 win over the Roosters the previous week, the speedster had another mad dash to make.
"I had a little girl after the game,” Roberts, who also has a one-year-old son, told NRL.com.
"After the Roosters game I went around to Matt Lodge’s place and we had some Maccas. Then my missus called me and told me that we needed to get to the hospital so I rushed back.
"Once I got home she was ready to go so she packed her bags and I took her down to hospital.
"I’m really happy. It’s my second [child]."
Roberts said on Thursday night after the win over the Eels that it would be "a really good achievement for myself, my people and my family" if he made the NSW squad.
He has now achieved that. He has made massive changes in his life to become the player and man that he is today and he recognised that he was yet to perform on the Origin arena.
"I’m a lot more mature as a person and as a player," Roberts said.
"Making the side is a lot different performing too so that is another job ahead.
"There are a lot of sacrifices that you make every pre-season and it is slowly paying off now.”
NRL.com columnist and Broncos legend Steve Renouf said Roberts's elevation to the Origin arena was "well deserved".
"His big match against the Roosters is what I reckon secured his spot in that NSW team," Renouf told NRL.com.
"I think the maturity he showed after Latrell Mitchell was all over him in the first half was pivotal.
"He didn’t panic and came back in the second half and did the opposite to Latrell, setting up a try and scoring one that only he could.
"Jimmy has put in a lot of hard work off the field to settle himself down and that takes discipline.
"I think he has done a really good job with that and it has shown with his footy."
Renouf said Roberts would enter Origin camp with a spring in his step after the birth of his daughter. The former Maroons star welcomed two of his own sons into the world ahead of State of Origin games.
"I had two of my sons – Billy and Charlie– in May around Origin time," Renouf said.
"I had to go from camp to the deliveries and we have photos of me in my Origin gear visiting my wife and my newborn.
"It is a little bit of a distraction but it is also a big lift. Now Jimmy has just had a daughter he will be very happy and going in with a good frame of mind. It will only be a positive for him."