Questions are being asked about his happiness under new coach Anthony Seibold and his strong ties to Wayne Bennett have many convinced his future will be in Redfern rather than Red Hill.
Tallis remains one of his biggest fans and doesn’t believe Brisbane have been aggressive enough in getting Roberts the ball early in sets this season.
“James is a very good young kid, he’s a good player and there is one thing that’s he got that nobody can coach … that’s speed,” Tallis said. “I don’t believe that they use him the right way. You only have to watch the Roosters and the early ball they give Latrell. He can just do things.
“James Roberts, I knew him as a 20-year-old kid at Souths and he was doing things on the field that only James Roberts could do. He’s been a bit chequered this year with injuries and off-field drama but I certainly like the way he plays.”
Fittler took a gamble on Roberts last year but he now looks at longer odds to retain his jersey as he searches for fitness and form. Jack Bird, his Brisbane centre companion, might the the man to take his place and return to the Blues fold.
Tallis refused to speculate on a NSW side but said of Roberts: “He played for NSW last year and they won. He’s got the talent.”
Brisbane captain Darius Boyd has heard the noise about a potential move for Roberts but said he wanted him to remain in Brisbane, an environment he believes has been critical to his mental health, even with Bennett now at South Sydney.
I don’t believe that [the Broncos] use him the right way. You only have to watch the Roosters and the early ball they give Latrell. He can just do things.
Gorden Tallis on James Roberts
“James’ story is well-documented. He had a tough upbringing and he’s been through a lot of things in his rugby league career. He’s been to a couple of different clubs,” Boyd said. “Wayne was a part of that, Paul White [Brisbane chief executive] was as well, in getting him to the club and really looking after him off the field. To James’ credit, he’s been in the best mental shape he’s ever been at this club and a for a lot of that he can thank Wayne and Whitey.
“I know he has a lot of ties there with Wayne. I think Brisbane is good for him and I think the club has been really good for him and I’d like to see him repay that faith.”
Even so, Boyd spoke like someone that would hardly be surprised if Roberts was moving once again, this time to re-unite with a coach that was able to transform him from an unfulfilled talent into a representative star.
“At the end of the day, it’s a business, he has to look after his family and do what he thinks is best. If that’s down there, then I wish him all the best.”