Damien Cook and South Sydney Rabbitohs wrap arms around James Roberts


“We’re very happy he is getting the help he needed and as a mate, I’m not too worried about James Roberts the football player at the moment. He can take as much time as he needs before he comes back.

“Once he comes back he will be welcomed with open arms. He is a big part of this side so we will be happy whenever he is ready to come back.”

Cook believes months of isolation at a time when NRL players are typically spending every day with one another contributed to Roberts seeking help.

The Kangaroos and NSW star also doesn’t think Roberts is alone in struggling with the isolation.

“We are used to seeing the boys every day and we weren’t even able to do that. We miss that camaraderie in the sheds. That’s why everyone is enjoying the first week back at training and seeing everyone,” Cook said.

“Not everyone can keep themselves busy. They need that structure in their lives and for me, personally, I like to stay busy. I lose my mind sitting around doing nothing. I had to set my own schedule when I was training.

“I had to give myself my own training days and when I did my weights days and running sessions – just to have that structure throughout the week.

James Roberts has entered a rehab facility for the third time in four years.Credit:Getty Images

“I was lucky enough to be able to do that and there are definitely some guys out there that really struggled.

“Obviously James is one of them but there are definitely a lot out there in the NRL. And probably the wider public, as well, who struggled without their structure in their lives.”

Roberts’ absence from Redfern has conjured questions about Souths’ on-field make-up when the season does resume on May 28.

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With a spot in the centres now vacant there was a school of thought that Latrell Mitchell might move back to the position that made him a superstar at the Roosters.

But the club’s prized recruit trained at fullback on Wednesday and, according to Cook, has practised there since the club reconvened last week.

“From what I understand – obviously Wayne will make those decisions – but from what I’ve seen this week Latrell has been doing all of his stuff at fullback,” Cook said.

“I believe that’s where he will be and I really believe he is going to be a great fullback for us.”

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