Wayne Bennett has admitted James Roberts had a drug and alcohol problem and lauded the Brisbane centre’s decision to get his life right off the field.
Roberts on Thursday signed a four-year NRL deal and spoke of his desire to stay with the Broncos for the rest of his career.
James Roberts (left) and coach Wayne Bennett announcing the four-year deal. Photo: Dan Peled/AAP
The speedster has undergone tremendous change in his personal life following his decision to check into a Thailand rehabilitation clinic last year.
The birth of his son, Kirk, has also resulted in the 24-year-old maturing and Bennett said he needed to undergo change in his life.
“When he came here last year you can hardly say he was part of the team,” Bennett said
“But he is, an important part of the team and an equal, they all respect him.
“It’s not all about James anymore.
“It’s about the team and he interacts with them and he’s valued by them.
“That’s why he’s got a four-year contract.”
Roberts, who was this year spoken about as a possible NSW State of Origin debutant, has rediscovered career best form at Red Hill in 2017.
He was reportedly chased by five rival clubs but decided to stay with Brisbane after Bennett and CEO Paul White helped to get his life back on track.
“I’ve always been able to play footy, but getting my life right off the field has been the main factor and I think they’ve done a wonderful job,” Roberts said.
Roberts began his career at South Sydney but was sacked for disciplinary reasons, before enduring the same fate at Penrith after six games.
He became one of Gold Coast’s best players before a contracting bungle on the club’s behalf saw him depart for Brisbane.