Benny praises re­born Roberts

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - PETER BADEL

BRIS­BANE coach Wayne Ben­nett has re­vealed the ex­tent of James Roberts’ prob­lems in­cluded drug use af­ter the in- form Broncos star yes­ter­day signed a $ 2 mil­lion con­tract ex­ten­sion.

The NRL in­tegrity unit last night said it would rub­ber­stamp Roberts’ new four- year deal de­spite Ben­nett’s bomb­shell rev­e­la­tion that the Broncos ace had dab­bled in drugs.

Roberts has spo­ken of his bat­tle with al­co­hol and he checked into a Thai­land re­hab fa­cil­ity last Oc­to­ber to ad­dress the off- field prob­lems that led to his sack­ing at two other NRL clubs. But he had never been pub­licly linked to drug use un­til yes­ter­day, when Ben­nett de­tailed the depth of the cen­tre’s pri­vate or­deal.

“It’s not easy to do what James has done. He has given up al­co­hol and given up drugs,” Ben­nett said.

“James has had a re­mark­able change,” Ben­nett said.

“He has been in that sit­u­a­tion for six or seven months and it’s been game- chang­ing for him and that’s why he has a four- year con­tract.

“Off the field with his be­hav­iour ... he has made some real com­mit­ments there.

“His be­hav­iour and at­ti­tude to his fel­low team­mates has changed. It is not all about James any­more. It is about the team, and he in­ter­acts re­ally well with them and is val­ued by them.

“When we b o u g h t James, we re­alised he had some prob­lems, we weren’t that naive, but he con­tin­ues to im­prove and what he has done has been quite re­mark­able.

“When he came here, you couldn’t say he was part of the team, but he is now.

“He is a real im­por­tant part of the team and an equal with ev­ery­one else. They re­spect him and he makes a real con­tri­bu­tion now.”

Just 12 months ago, Roberts was fight­ing to save his NRL ca­reer af­ter be­ing in­volved in two al­co­hol- fu­elled in­ci­dents that re­sulted in the Broncos fin­ing him $ 20,000 and the NRL warn­ing him that he was on his last chance.

But Roberts has turned his ca­reer around, scor­ing 13 tries in 17 games this sea­son.

Ben­nett clar­i­fied his com­ment last night, in­sist­ing he was not re­fer­ring to Roberts us­ing il­licit drugs.

“I was just be­ing hon­est about James’s sit­u­a­tion,” Ben­nett said. “It was an is­sue in re­la­tion to pre­scrip­tion drugs, noth­ing else, and the Broncos have en­sured there is a duty of care for James’s well­be­ing.”

Roberts said yes­ter­day he knew he had to make changes.

“I had to be better. I have fi­nally come around and re­alised what is im­por­tant in life,” he said.

James Roberts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.