When Tyrone Roberts was recruited from the Newcastle Knights for the 2016 season he was viewed as a mentor for young halves Ash Taylor and Kane Elgey.
A safety net of sorts for then coach Neil Henry if the kids weren’t quite up to speed.
A serious knee injury to Elgey in the pre-season thrust Roberts and Taylor together, the pair guiding the Titans to an unlikely finals appearance yet it wasn't enough to keep his spot the following season.
He became the team's Mr Fix-It – playing off the bench and starting games at fullback and hooker – yet statistics show that since the arrival of Roberts the Titans are much better served with him as a starting half.
Forced out at the end of 2017 as the club put all their faith in Taylor and Elgey, Roberts spent a year playing in the Super League with Warrington but has returned ready to take control.
Across his first two seasons at the club the Titans won 13 of 26 games with Roberts either at five-eighth or halfback with one draw. In comparison, when Roberts played elsewhere or was not in the team at all they were a dismal five wins and 17 losses from 22 games (22.7%).
When Roberts left the field with an Achilles issue 12 minutes into the round one clash with the Raiders the Titans attacking structure fell apart, yet when Taylor departed 27 minutes into last Friday’s win over Penrith Roberts took control.
The 27 year-old believes he is the same dominant half that he was in 2016 yet senior players are seeing a much more assertive playmaker this season.
"Playing in those big games overseas might have helped him a bit," said captain Ryan James.
"He didn't want to leave here but the circumstances forced him out the door.
"Tyrone was always the dominant one and Ash played a bit of ad-lib and structure off the back of it.
"If Tyrone wants to be the dominant one it wouldn't bother me. He does a good job at that anyway. He's a bit older and more experienced so he has that voice and people tend to look for him for things anyway."
Garth Brennan first coached Roberts when he took charge of the Knights' Harold Matthews Cup team in 2007 and having reunited this year also believes the NRL is seeing a different player.
"I've got the utmost faith in Tyrone Roberts," Brennan said.
"He really stood up and owned that footy team [against Penrith]. He showed that he's a different footballer than the one that was here in the past."
The injury that curtailed his night against the Panthers doesn't look like stopping Taylor from lining up against the Knights on Sunday, and given his disrupted start to 2019 once again has Roberts to lean on.
Titans v Knights - Round 6
While his mate may be banking the big cheques every month, Roberts is happy to play the foil that allows Taylor to also be at his best.
"Me and Ash had a good combination. I made sure that he had all the time in the world to do what he could do," Roberts told NRL.com.
"I was wearing the No.6 but it makes it easy for me to tell the forwards what to do because I've got that experience; I'm one of the elders in the team.
"Everyone asks me what they want and it makes it easier for Ash to do what he needs to do."
Since joining the Titans Roberts has enjoyed three wins and just the one loss against his former club and hopes to give Gold Coast fans a happy Easter Sunday.
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"I'll always have a soft spot for the Knights. That's where I started," said Roberts, who was only cleared to play against Penrith on the morning of the game.
"It's good that it's at home. We've got to build that foundation here.
"When I walk around the stadium at the end I always thank the fans because when we do lose it's hard for them. But they keep turning up and that's a credit to them and the support that they give us."
Gates at Cbus Super Stadium open at 11.15am on Sunday with the Titans Physical Disability Rugby League and touch football teams in action in matches leading up to the NRL kick-off at 2pm.