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Broncos centre James Roberts.

I have been really impressed with the development of James Roberts as a footballer but what is most important and even more impressive for me is his progress as a person away from the field.

That is why the man we all love to call "The Jet" is the star in a promotion for the Deadly Choices healthy lifestyle program that is of such a benefit to the Indigenous community.

We went to the Broncos to film a TV advertisement for the program with their Indigenous players – The Jet, David Fifita, Jack Bird and Gehamat Shibasaki – and it was very rewarding to work with them all and a lot of fun.

By selecting Jimmy as the star of the promotion it was a vote of confidence in the way he has got his life on track after a rocky start as a youth.

I have had a bit to do with James in the last few years and what I have noted is the developing maturity in him. He’s a lot more out there and engaging now after he was more guarded when he first came to the club.

Jimmy becomes a cartoon character in the 30-second ad. He comes to me, an old ex-footy player who can’t run, and takes the Deadly Choices posters from me and runs them all around Queensland.

He leaves as the real James Roberts, and then becomes the cartoon version as he races across the state before coming back … huffing and puffing. It has been received extremely well and has a fun aspect to it because the ‘cartoon Jimmy’ has a rats tail as well.

Jimmy can be a lot more influential in a positive way than maybe even he realises. The kids and the community in general love ‘The Jet’. 

He is a good lad. From where he was, to where he is now, is a massive improvement.

Jimmy’s journey is going to be an ongoing thing and he needs to keep at it. I see him on social media with is two kids and he is a very proud father.

I really admire the way he has progressed at the Broncos as a footy player and a man.

It is a positive for his young family, for him and for the club. He is a dominant player and although he is only 26 he is one of the senior players at the club and a real leader.

He seems a lot more stable right across the board and that is only going auger well for a person like Jimmy.

I talked to him when he first came to the club and I talk to him now and the change in him is notable. I don’t talk too much footy, just check in and see how he is going. 

I was at the ground when Brisbane beat the Cowboys and I noticed how the Broncos players pump the arms when they score a try, and when Jimmy scored he did it nonchalant and all serious. Someone said to me ‘why doesn’t he smile more?’ and I say ‘he is smiling on the inside’.

James Roberts sprints 90m

Jimmy is finely tuned, a bit like a Ferrari really. He had that lower back injury against Melbourne and I thought he was heading for a long stint on the sidelines.

His back ceased up on him and he could barely walk,  but then he was back training the next week and as good as gold.

The staff at the Broncos did well to get him back so soon and firing.

He’s had an Achilles issue last year that he had to manage and I thought he showed a great deal of physical and mental toughness to play through it so well and earn a NSW jersey.

I remember watching him at times and his body language suggested he was in a deal of trouble but he just played through it.

Jimmy’s journey is going to be an ongoing thing and he needs to keep at it.

That’s another sign of his maturity.

I was watching the Broncos play the Dragons on Thursday night with my son Charlie and as soon as he got the ball 90m out he said ‘that’s it. It’s a try’. Roberts did his best against the Dragons but he was clutching at his Achilles again. It is a concern.

I said last year that Jimmy was the a player who I could see breaking my try-scoring record at the Broncos if he can have a 10-year career at the club.

It is going to be a challenge because I still think he is not fully utilised in attack. I’d be getting the ball out to him a lot more in a game.

He should be scoring a lot more tries and I hope Anthony Seibold finds a way to get him a lot more clean ball.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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