Broncos outline plan to unleash Roberts on Roosters again
Kodi Nikorima has outlined how the Brisbane Broncos plan to unleash centre James Roberts on his NSW teammate Latrell Mitchell again as the two centres resume what has become a personal match-up to savour.
In the Broncos' 28-22 win at Suncorp Stadium in round 11 it was Mitchell who dominated the first half before Roberts came out in the second and blitzed it.
Nikorima is his own harshest critic and said early in the second half of last week's 38-18 win over South Sydney that his game management "wasn't there at times" when it came to when he gave Roberts the ball on Brisbane's right side.
"I was trying to give Jimmy the ball on the fourth tackle and that puts pressure on us getting out of yardage, especially kicking off that sideline, so I won't be doing that this week," he said.
"It will be either second or third tackle this week. The plan is always to get Jimmy the ball. He is obviously an attacking weapon."
The Broncos have struggled to get Roberts as involved as captain Darius Boyd would like since the Origin series finished. Boyd said battles such as the Roberts v Mitchell showdown "put bums on seats" ahead of Saturday night's clash at Allianz Stadium.
It is putting Roberts in the clear more often that the Broncos believe can give them an extra edge against the Roosters and in the weeks ahead.
"We need to focus on getting Jimmy quality ball. We probably haven't been good at getting him ball the last two weeks in particular but he is a strike weapon and we know what he can do," Boyd said.
"It would be good to see him get one on Latrell.
"Latrell is a quality player and hard to handle and James is the same, as we saw in the second half of that last game. It was probably a draw after the first game.
"We need to do our work in the middle and get some tired forwards going so we can get him early ball with some space."
Nikorima said Roberts was also assisting him off the ball when in attack, but more importantly in defence.
It was Roberts' improvement in that area that won him a Blues jersey and has also won him plenty of kudos at Brisbane.
"The big difference with James this year is that he is our defensive leader on the right edge," Nikorima said.
"He does a lot of talking and his energy is great. He was under a bit of scrutiny going into this year about his defence but he has really done that well this year.
"[Latrell Mitchell] is one of the best left-edge attacking weapons in the game at the moment so no doubt we will have another big task but I have every confidence that Jimmy will do a good job. If he keeps that defensive mindset. when he gets the ball he can do anything."
Nikorima said he had become a lot more vocal in the halfback role than he was at the start of the year and was now more comfortable telling his forwards what to do and when to do it.
"At the start of the year I probably took my role for granted, thinking it would all just happen again like last year," he said.
"That's not the case this year and I had to change my game and talk a lot more. That is what I have started to do and I have definitely taken more ownership of my group."