James Roberts will run out in an Indigenous themed jersey for Brisbane on Saturday night against Canberra forever thankful for the advice and support of his uncle Amos Roberts.
Amos - the former Dragons, Panthers and Roosters NRL star - has been a mentor and guide for Roberts throughout his life and always encouraged him to make “deadly”, or right, choices.
The Broncos have a partnership with Deadly Choices, a program which is an initiative of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health which encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to make “deadly” choices in the area of health. The clash with the Raiders doubles as the Deadly Choices round and NSW Blues star Roberts is proud to wear the jersey designed by Indigenous artist Charlie Chambers.
The 25-year-old centre has made immense strides on and off the field in his life and thanks his uncle for steering him in the right direction.
“When I was young my uncle Amos Roberts played a massive part in my life,” Roberts told NRL.com.
“We have got a good relationship. He is my mum’s brother and I used to live with him when I was at the Roosters.
"He has always done his best to guide me in the right direction in all areas of my life. Sometimes I didn’t go the way I should have, but I appreciate everything he has done for me.”
That appreciation was on show before the State of Origin series decider in Sydney where Roberts spent time with his uncle on game day before the Blues wrapped up the series.
“The day of Origin in Sydney I was at his house all morning and we went for brekkie. I was playing with his kids and chilling out in the house before the game,” Roberts said.
“It was really good for me and kept me calm. My family always calms me.”
Roberts said he was keen to back up the series win for NSW with a starring role against the Raiders.
“I am very proud to throw the Indigenous jersey on for the Broncos and hopefully we can go out there and do the job against Canberra and keep our momentum going," he said.
“My focus now is with the Broncos. It would be great to get a clean sweep [in Origin] but a premiership is a real goal for me now.”
Roberts, who said Indigenous leaders and former NRL stars Anthony Mundine and Preston Campbell were his idols as a youth, has backed up the pride he speaks about with actions.
Broncos legend Steve Renouf is a Deadly Choices ambassador and said Roberts was a hit when the program engaged him last year.
“James is a proud Indigenous lad and even though he is from NSW we are all proud of what he has achieved and how he has turned his life around. It is full credit to him,” Renouf said.
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“We took him up north last year to Yarrabah with the Deadly Choices program in North Queensland and he mixed well with all the locals at a footy game. He embraced it and got to see his mob. They all embraced him too, even though he is from NSW. He said to me that he felt really comfortable and they made him welcome. It was a great experience for him.”
Renouf said Saturday night’s clash was an outstanding opportunity for rugby league to be utilised as a vehicle for positive outcomes in society.
“With our partnership with the Broncos we have a Deadly Choices round which is the one on Saturday night against the Raiders and we will have a presence there,” Renouf said.
“Our main message with the Deadly Choices program is to encourage our people to get health checks and to live healthier lives.
“Indigenous people can get a health checks through one of our 20 medical services in the Greater Brisbane Area and get one of our Deadly Choices shirts for free, which are mostly in Broncos colours because of our partnership."