Roberts injury puts Origin hopes in doubt
Brisbane's strike centre James Roberts has been sidelined indefinitely with an Achilles injury that could cost him his NSW Origin jumper.
The Broncos received a blow ahead of Thursday's blockbuster clash against premiers the Roosters with coach Anthony Seibold revealing there is no definitive timeframe for Roberts' return as 'The Jet' battles the most frustrating injury of his career.
Roberts has been managing a niggling Achilles problem for the past 15 months and will miss the Roosters showdown at the SCG - opening the door for young gun Kotoni Staggs to mark-up against NSW Origin sensation Latrell Mitchell.
Seibold insists the Broncos are not considering surgery for Roberts, who will instead undergo an intensive rehabilitation program before he is medically cleared to return to the field.
The sidelining of Roberts could have ramifications for his NSW Origin selection hopes. The series opener is on June 5, giving Roberts eight weeks to convince NSW coach Brad Fittler his body can withstand the rigours of the code's toughest arena.
Asked when Roberts will return to the Broncos side, Seibold said: "It remains to be seen.
"He did parts of training yesterday so he is working hard with the medical staff, but as people are aware, achilles are quite a painful injury.
"It has hampered him there is no doubt about that.
"You can see in his performances he has hobbled around a little bit at times and it has been challenging for him.
"We think the best thing to do is to spend a bit of time getting his body right and we will focus on what he does next week after this game.
"To be fair, I don't think surgery is an option.
"I was talking to Alex Glenn the other day and he had one (an achilles injury) for three years."
Seibold challenged Roberts to leave no stone unturned with his rehabilitation to return as quickly as possible.
"Only Jimmy can answer that," Seibold said of the centre's attitude to rehab.
"As an individual you have to work hard on your rehab and with the medical staff. He isn't able to do his job for the game and if he can't do his job, I can't play him. That's where we are at this week.
"It's one of those injuries that's a tricky one, anyone who has had an achilles injury ... they come and go.
"When the pain is there it is hard to run.
"Jimmy has been hampered with that injury, we made a decision that he has to spend time getting it right and that's what he will do over the next few weeks.
"Whether it's one or two weeks out or longer, we just have to work with the medical staff.
"When he is right again, we will make a decision on what we do."
Seibold says Brisbane's pack - bolstered by the return of key enforcer Matt Lodge from suspension - faces the ultimate litmus test against the defending premiers.
"It's important for all our forward pack," he said.
"It's a really good challenge. Anytime you play against the premiers, you want to benchmark yourself against them and we have some young men here who want to benchmark themselves tomorrow night."