Adam returns to inject some impact into the Broncos’ middle
ALL THE WEEKEND NRL TEAMS PAGES 68-69
THE Titans have signed Newcastle playmaker Tyrone Roberts after Wayne Bennett helped orchestrate a $400,000 recruitment coup for the Broncos’ Queensland rivals.
The Courier-Mail can reveal the Gold Coast have continued their recruitment drive with the purchase of the Knights No.7, who will join his cousin, Titans flyer James Roberts, until the end of 2017.
Roberts has yet to put BRONCOS prop Adam Blair returns from suspension but Brisbane will be without two of their best players for a crucial clash with St George Illawarra.
The Dragons are coming off two impressive victories and will meet a Broncos team missing captain Justin Hodges who has been suspended and metre machine Corey Oates.
Oates will miss a week because of a minor knee injury while Hodges plead guilty to a pen to paper but has agreed to terms on a two-year deal.
Titans hierarchy will formally announce his signing in coming days after the Knights agreed to release Roberts from the final year of his Newcastle contract.
A pivotal figure in Roberts’ transfer was Bennett, who advised the 24-year-old to start afresh at the Titans after his axing to the NSW Cup in June.
The Broncos master coach has now played a key role in delivering two playmakers to the Titans, releasing boom Brisbane under- high-tackle charge which rules him out for a week.
The Broncos took the plea with Hodges to clear his carryover points before the finals.
Next time he cops a grade one he will be able to plead guilty and escape suspension.
The Broncos need the attacking threat of Hodges and Oates but Blair’s return will have a major impact.
The Broncos forwards have been outplayed in the past fortnight.
Blair admitted he believed 20s halfback Ashley Taylor last week.
Bennett was a valued mentor to Roberts during his three-year stint in Newcastle and the veteran coach last night backed his former No.7 to spearhead a Titans revival.
“He’s a good buy for the Titans,” Bennett said. “I’ll be honest, I spoke to Tyrone just recently and I said he should go, I thought the Titans would be good for him.
“I saw an opportunity for him at that club and he will be successful there.
“I have a lot of time for Brisbane’s pack allowed the opposition to gain quicker ruck speeds in his absence.
“I think me being there will help. I can bring some leadership and some talk and I hope to do that on Friday night,” Blair said.
“It was really frustrating being unable to contribute. Tyrone. He just needs the Titans to believe in him because he is highly skilled. He has a great attitude to training. He is low maintenance, he’s not difficult to coach.
“His challenge is to get the confidence to do well, it will be his fifth year in the NRL next year and I can assure you this level is not beyond him.”
Bennett lauded Roberts’ character in overcoming a rough childhood to reach the NRL.
Born in the far-north NSW town of Grafton, Roberts played 79 consecutive NRL games for the Knights before suffering an ankle injury in May.
The signing of Roberts adds much-needed depth to the Titans’ scrumbase as he, Taylor and Kane Elgey prepare to wage a three-way shootout for two spots.
“Ashley is going there to play NRL so it’s for the Titans to sort out,” Bennett said. “Ash needs to play NRL, that’s why I let him go.”
Roberts is the Titans’ fifth signing in recent weeks, joining Taylor, David Shillington, Nathan Friend and Zeb Taia.
“It has been hard. I have worked hard the last two weeks though.
“Corey (Parker) has been dragged out with his minutes but he always works hard.
“It (Blair’s return) will free him up and help Sammy (Thaiday).
“I think the speed of the ruck was really quick against us.
“A lot comes back to communication and I think I can help a lot with that in defence. “I will give it 100 per cent.” Hodges’ suspension allows Dale Copley to start for the first time since Round 8 coming into right centre.
It has been a frustrating season for Copley who suffered repeat injuries early in the season and has been unable to force his way into the team.
This year should have been his breakout but Jack Reed has cemented the left centre spot.
Copley scored 16 tries last season, the most by any Broncos player.
He is now stuck behind Reed, Oates, Hodges, Jordan Kahu and Lachlan Maranta.
Maranta also earns a recall to the starting team.
The Dragons have also been hit with injury but have named Benji Marshall despite his hamstring strain. Drew Hutchison has flown to Brisbane as cover for Marshall.