Tyrone Roberts believes fatherhood will be the making of young gun Ashley Taylor as a footballer with the Titans halves heading into 2020 sharing “more of a bond” than your typical playmaker partnership.
Roberts is one of Taylor’s closest friends at the Titans and while the experienced five-eighth wasn’t fully aware of his teammate’s off-field battles last year, he has seen a new man return to the club buoyed by the excitement of becoming a father to son Oscar in December.
A father to two young daughters himself, Roberts can see the parallels between being a halfback in charge of a football team and a father taking responsibility for a young family.
He believes Taylor's commitments away from the game can only help him handle the responsibility of leading the Titans on the field too.
“It’s another thing (for him) to play for,” Roberts said.
“Not only the jersey and the club, but it’s your family you’re playing for, your son in his case.
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“It’s just responsibility. It’s another bit of respect, you take that onto the field. Being the halfback you have a responsibility to take care of your team. I’m sure he will feel the same off the field.”
Roberts said Taylor disguised his struggles well last year but was pleased to see him return to the club after taking time away from the game to deal with his mental health issues.
“I know Ash but I don’t know the depth into (it) and all the stuff that was happening,” Roberts said.
“I was just making sure he was alright and he’d say he was alright to me and to everyone that was close. It was only until later you realise he was actually hurting.”
Roberts and Taylor have formed a strong combination in their three seasons together since 2016. But since returning from his one-year stint with Super League club Warrington in 2018 Roberts has struggled due to a turf toe injury and now an Achilles complaint.
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Roberts, however, believes he has figured out how to play through the pain of his latest issue by managing his running workload during the week so he doesn’t inflame or aggravate his Achilles and will be ready to start the season on Friday night against the Raiders.
“I’ve had two niggles that have taken a real toll mentally but now it’s just good to know what’s going on,” he said.
“Until I saw the specialist it was hard to train but I’m back training and doing the little things right.
“It’s not always going to be there but hopefully it goes away. It’s not the Achilles itself it’s just the sheet wrapped around the Achilles, it just gets inflamed when you do heaps of running or a big session.
“I’ve played two trials and I reckon I'll be ready to go on Friday.”
The Titans face a difficult first up task against in Canberra and Roberts knows it’s just the beginning of a challenging opening to the season for the 2019 wooden spooners.
“Our goal is just to win some games,” Roberts said.
“We’ve got to worry about the first four or five games because it’s tough, top-four teams, we have to step up and be consistent on and off the field.
“If we do that we will be in a position to win some games.”