James Roberts can become the greatest try scorer in Brisbane Broncos history if he gets the support he needs from his inside men.
For mine, and I have suggested this to Wayne Bennett, that also means playing at left centre on the same side of the field as Anthony Milford.
I get excited as soon as I see Jimmy touch the ball. I am on the edge of my seat just waiting for him to explode with that extraordinary power he has in his legs.
Prior to him coming to the Broncos I’d watch him at the Gold Coast Titans because I loved the way he created tries out of nothing.
I thought he would be even better suited here in Brisbane, but I still believe he should be playing on the left side with Milford and not on the right.
Milford needs to keep working on his game, but even when he plays naturally there have been a number of times where he’s made half-breaks and is giving it to blokes like Sam Thaiday who are in support, but not going to make the line.
Imagine if Roberts was there. It would be “see you later”.
I’ve had a couple of conversations with Wayne about my ideas, and the last one was at the Cox Plate in Melbourne after Australia beat Great Britain in the World Cup.
Brisbane had signed Jack Bird and it was probably the first positive conversation I had with Wayne that they might move Jimmy to the left, because Bird plays on the right.
Jimmy can win big games for you, but I don’t think the Broncos have played to his strengths.
Kevin Walters is in charge of the attack at Brisbane now and if I was Kevvie, and Roberts does end up on the left, I’d be pairing him with Milford straight away and saying “this is what happens and this is how we score a try”.
Jimmy’s instincts comes naturally. If Milford makes half a break he will get himself there in support.
That is what I used to do. Kevvie would give me the ball for a move we would practise, or I would watch him make those half-breaks and be there.
You just have to be alert to it, and that is something I think Roberts and Milford can learn together.
Roberts is only 24 and is signed to the Broncos for the next four years, and in that time he could easily score 70 to 80 tries.
He scored 18 tries last year and if he stays at the Broncos for the next eight seasons I see no reason why he can’t average that at least and go past my own record of 142 – if he gets the ball, that is.
The Broncos of the 1990s had a game plan that involved getting a lot of ball to the outside backs. I got a lot of ball I didn’t want, but I had to go with it.
That’s because Allan Langer, and mostly Kevvie, looked for me. The boys would say “get your arse there Pearl and get this ball into you”. They’d make me do my thing.
I have spoken privately to Jimmy about this and he believes he doesn’t get enough ball, which comes back to both halves. I don’t want him to become like a Justin Hodges who has to get into dummy half and work his backside off to get the ball in his hands.
He can score from a standing start and create something out of nothing so they should be trying to bring him in as much as they can… and get him on that left side. I know I sound like a broken record, but Wayne knows what the remedy is.