'Caged lion' Roberts dedicates Origin win to his brother
James Roberts paced the NSW dressing rooms like a "caged lion" before truly breaking down when his brother joined him to celebrate the Origin triumph he thought he had trashed in a moment of madness.
Roberts' 68th minute sin-binning for impeding Gavin Cooper's chase of a grubber was the type of play that has too often proven the difference between a Queensland dynasty and Blues despair.
The 25-year-old endured the "longest 10 minutes of I've ever had" as NSW desperately defended an 18-14 lead while down a man.
In the underbelly of ANZ Stadium, Roberts prowled up and down the sheds the entire time he was off the paddock, joined first by Blues staffer Paul Sironen and then skipper Boyd Cordner when he was concussed out of the game with the clock winding down.
"He was a caged lion, he was nervous, Jimmy thought he'd lost us the game," Sironen told NRL.com after what will go down as a famous Blues win.
"He was worried like nothing else and Boyd Cordner actually broke a lot of the tension.
"He came in with his concussion and asked Jimmy about four times in three minutes if he'd been sin-binned. That took Jimmy's mind off his situation, it wasn't good that Boyd was in a bad way but it did help (Roberts) at least."
With two minutes to play Roberts returned to the paddock, closing out just the second NSW series win in 13 years.
But not until retiring to the sheds again and seeing his younger brother Kirk did Roberts' emotions truly overwhelm him.
"I didn't really feel it until I got back into the sheds and sat down and thought about it," Roberts said.
"Once I saw my little brother, he rolled through the door and I just started crying. Hugging him and kissing him and it just made the whole night perfect."
The Roberts brothers' bond was forged in the backyard and only strengthened by Kirk's debilitating bout of muscular dystrophy.
Now mostly confined to a wheelchair after first being diagnosed at the age of five, doctors have said Kirk's physical condition could one day end his life prematurely, with Roberts in turn vowing the 20-year-old would get to see him play Origin before his time came.
Out the other side of an astounding upbringing and conquering all manner of demons to take his place in the NSW side, Roberts dedicated the cherished win to his family and his 16 "new brothers" in sky blue.
"I was emotional, it's been a long journey for me," Roberts said.
"Everything that happens with me reflects my family and my brother. I'm a role model for him so to be able to do something to make my family proud, and make my brother proud it's really special.
"It's a dream come true to achieve something so great. I dedicated it to him, he's the reason I think.
"These type of bonds are going to last forever. I might not win a premiership, I don't know but I can at least say that I've won an Origin series with my younger brother here and my new brothers, my teammates.
"It's been an awesome campaign with still one game to go, but these are the kind of bonds that will last a lifetime."
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