Roberts out to show his true self at Suncorp
A licence for open, free-flowing football has been given to the NSW Origin backline with James Roberts putting his hand up immediately as one player who can't wait to run wild.
A dry Suncorp Stadium track and a warm Brisbane night sets the perfect scene for the Blues backline of James Tedesco, Josh Addo-Carr, Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell and James Roberts to find some space and turn on the speed.
And Roberts wants a larger piece of the action this time. Maybe with no Greg Inglis in front of him, it can happen.
Roberts was the only one of the NSW back five not to score at the MCG, and then Mitchell and Addo-Carr scored in game two at ANZ Stadium.
He made just 57 metres from nine runs in game one, while the other four all cracked 100 metres. In game two Roberts made 14 runs for 104 metres and four tackle breaks.
The 25-year-old Broncos centre says he doesn't use statistics to mark himself, but he did admit at NSW training at Allianz Stadium on Sunday that the 2018 Holden State of Origin series had not seen the best of him.
"Personally, no I don't think so but it's not about me. It's about doing my job for the team and getting three games under wraps," Roberts said.
"I didn't say I played bad but I just haven't had an outstanding game," said the 25-year-old who has made 55 tackle busts in his 14 games for the Broncos this year, along with six tries.
"It doesn't really bother me if I score tries or not. As long as we get a win then that's all that matters."
Well NSW has the series won 2-0, so now it's time to roll out the fancy stuff.
Back-rower Jack de Belin said that very topic had been high on the NSW players' lists this week.
"We've kind of addressed that and definitely do want to throw the ball around a bit more and not get bogged down in that grindy style of footy, which has happened to us a bit lately," de Belin said.
"We got caught up in just 'take your carry, take your medicine, get to a kick'. So we didn't play much other footy.
"When you look across at our side we've got a fair bit of attacking flair so we probably need to capitalise on that more.
"When there's a dead rubber on, the points do tend to flow a bit more."
Roberts and Mitchell were the first two players the Dragons workhorse identified as being central to a more expansive style from the Blues on Wednesday night.
"For sure. They are pretty deadly those two. So if they can inject themselves in the game it will go a long way to getting us the victory.
"The whole backline with Tedesco and Trbojevic and Foxy (Addo-Carr). They are all quality. They've all got speed – all got power.
"It goes for everyone too. We all feel we've got more potential, more to prove. That goes for myself too."
So while Roberts searches for his first Origin try, another first will be experiencing a hostile Suncorp Stadium crowd at his home ground.
"It's more like home than anything for me. It's a ground I'm most comfortable there. But I haven't played in a Blues jersey before that crowd so we'll see how it goes," Roberts said.
"We've got a job to do – and that's the clean sweep."
Origin at Suncorp, there's nothing like it! Game III tickets available here