James Roberts has becomes the Brisbane Broncos' rock, his coach says. Photo: Dan Peled/AAP
James Roberts has becomes the Brisbane Broncos' rock, his coach says. Photo: Dan Peled/AAP

Bennett convinced “flash and show” Bronco ready for Origin

JAMES Roberts' gritty display in Brisbane's 22-20 NRL win over Canterbury has convinced Wayne Bennett the NSW hopeful is finally ready for State of Origin.

Once all "flash and show", Roberts sparked the Suncorp Stadium win on Thursday night when his probing run set up Joe Ofahengaue's 75th-minute try to level the scores, before producing a kick that ensured a controversial finish.

Bulldogs No.1 Moses Mbye was contentiously sin-binned for a professional foul in the 79th minute after making contact with Darius Boyd as the Brisbane fullback tried to regather Roberts' kick and score.

The Broncos (5-4 record) slotted the resulting penalty to seal their third win in four games.

There were no flashy plays or trademark 50m runs from Roberts - and that's just how Bennett liked it.

And he reckoned NSW selectors might appreciate it too.

"He is doing the things I haven't see him do in the past," Bennett said. "That's the tough things that you have got to do at Origin level when it is not going for you.

"You just knuckle down and do your job and not become a liability. I think he is in a good place to be able to do that (for NSW)."

James Roberts could face off against Greg Inglis in this year’s Origin series. Photo: Phil Hillyard
James Roberts could face off against Greg Inglis in this year’s Origin series. Photo: Phil Hillyard

Roberts, 25, backed up from his stellar display in the previous round against South Sydney to run 100m in a busy but no-frills effort against the luckless Bulldogs.

With incumbent Josh Dugan battling a broken foot ahead of June 6's Origin opener, Roberts' transformation since  arriving at the Broncos two years ago looks set to put him in contention for a NSW right-centre berth.

"He was all flash and show when he arrived here," Bennett said of Roberts, a 2015 NSW City Origin rep.

"When he was not getting the ball he kind of didn't want to participate.

"Two years on he has learned how to be a good pro and learned a lot of things that are making the difference for us without the star 50m run."

Once the rock star of Brisbane's backline, Roberts was now simply the Broncos' "rock", Bennett said.

"His defence is really good. He's probably the most heavily marked guy in the game - everyone knows you can't give him half a metre," the coach said.

"I am just pleased he is doing a lot of the little things that he didn't do when he first got here.

"He is a bit of a rock for us at the moment."

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