Souths won’t be saving Roberts from Broncos hell
WAYNE Bennett has ruled out signing James Roberts, emphatically closing the door on the out-of-favour Brisbane centre reuniting with him at South Sydney.
Speculation has been rife for weeks that Roberts wants out of the Broncos and it seemed a fait accompli that the NSW Origin ace would be thrown a lifeline by Bennett to replace the retired Greg Inglis at Redfern.
But the Roberts saga is officially over, with Bennett declaring the Rabbitohs are looking elsewhere for centre options - leaving "The Jet" to fight for his future at the Broncos.
Roberts had three superb seasons at the Broncos under Bennett, who turned him into a NSW Origin player, but when asked if he would lure Roberts to the Rabbitohs, the veteran coach was unequivocal.
"No," Bennett said.
"We haven't approached him. James won't be coming to South Sydney - this year or next year.
"He is under contract until (the end of 2021) and in that time we will review our situation, but that's our position.
"We have Braidon Burns to come back (from injury) and we have a good young player in Adam Doueihi who can play a number of positions - he is due back the same time as Braidon.
"We are looking for a centre but we want the right player and the right guy for the club.
"That's why we have been patient. We don't want to rush into something that we don't want."
Roberts was dumped by Broncos coach Anthony Seibold after producing a dismal defensive performance in Brisbane's 38-6 loss to Bennett's Bunnies a fortnight ago.
The Jet's body language smacked of a player who was unhappy at the Broncos, but Bennett urged Roberts to rediscover the hunger that made him Brisbane's most dangerous centre since Steve Renouf.
Roberts is set to receive his shot at redemption for next Friday night's blockbuster against the Roosters after Jack Bird's season-ending ACL injury in the Broncos' 26-10 win over Manly on Friday night.
"James has good people around him in Brisbane, I'm sure he can handle it," Bennett said.
"James played against us (two weeks ago) and I saw a bit of vision of him.
"He has had an Achilles problem, but this time last year he was ready to be picked for NSW.
"He needs a bit of confidence like most players do when they are going through a tough period. I'm not always sure how you get that. You can take them to that place but they have to get there themselves.
"The injury to Jack Bird might give him the opportunity to come back and I hope James can grab it."
The Rabbitohs enter Sunday's clash against the Cowboys with a formidable 7-1 record and Bennett is urging his troops to go for the jugular to retain a share of the competition lead.
"The Cowboys are having a mixed season, but they are still a quality team and they played pretty good last week," he said.
"We have been consistent and are doing a lot of things right, but I'm confident if we turn up tomorrow we will make it tough for them."