James Roberts ready for NSW spot: Bennett
Wayne Bennett has seen plenty of State of Origin players during his time at NRL club Brisbane and he says James Roberts won't be out of place in a NSW guernsey.
As State of Origin experts go, Wayne Bennett reckons he is pretty hard to beat.
And he believes once troubled Brisbane centre James Roberts is ready to play for NSW.
Roberts finally showed what he was capable of in Brisbane colours, carving up former team Gold Coast Titans in a three-try display that sealed their 24-22 last round win.
The 24-year-old still appeared to have a battle on his hands vying with Josh Dugan, Dylan Walker, Jack Bird and Joey Leilua for the Blues right centre role.
However, Bennett said he had seen plenty of Origin players at the Broncos - and Roberts could be the next.
"We've had so many Origin players come through the Broncos so I have pretty fair idea of when guys are ready or not," he said.
"He's shown all the attributes that he is."
Roberts has attracted the Blues selectors' attention after notching seven tries this season - more than the other NSW centre contenders.
But Roberts has also been known to make headlines for all the wrong reasons.
In January Roberts' career appeared to be in the balance over an alleged assault on a female in a Gold Coast nightclub.
However, the NRL integrity unit opted not to take action after it was unable to gain access to nightclub footage.
Roberts was released from South Sydney in 2012 and Penrith two years later for breaches before being thrown a lifeline by Gold Coast where he was also investigated for an incident in Surfers Paradise at the end of 2014.
A contract bungle led to him moving to the Broncos in 2016, where he was fined $20,000 by the NRL for public nuisance at a Brisbane hotel.
But Bennett believed Roberts had turned it around and would come back an even better player - and person - from a NSW Origin camp.
"I think (Brisbane forward) Matt Gillett is a good example of that after he came back from Queensland and playing for Australia," Bennett said.
"They just play with better players and they learn good habits off them.
"I love the system because it makes players better being part of that.
"The big match stuff only comes around three or four times in a club season.
"In Origin it's three in a row and challenges every part of you."
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