CENTRE OF ATTENTION: James Roberts is caught this time during the NRL season-opener at Pirtek Stadium on Thursday.
CENTRE OF ATTENTION: James Roberts is caught this time during the NRL season-opener at Pirtek Stadium on Thursday. Mark Kolbegetty Images

Speedster’s quick wit needs to be embraced

DO we want robots trotting out the same boring "one game at a time" answers, or do we want to see players show some personality?

Seriously, the furore over James Roberts' "more speed than Oxford Street" quip to Channel 9's Yvonne Sampson after Brisbane's win on Thursday night was over the top ... to me anyway.

Sadly, if Roberts is ridiculed much more by social media it could make him and other players gun shy to give fans a glimpse of who they really are.

They are rugby league players, not politicians, although they can be politicians when they retire, like Glenn Lazarus.

At training they regularly crack jokes, some which are probably not politically correct, as people do in any workplace.

Roberts was merely trying to be funny, and believed his response would be taken that way. It certainly was by Channel 9's commentary team, headed by Peter Sterling, and Sampson, who both burst out laughing.

If anything, Broncos coach Wayne Bennett's comments about him not being on the NRL's Mardi gras float could have been more inappropriate.

Just who did Roberts offend?

Speed and other drugs are pretty common place in Sydney's notorious Oxford Street. Let's get over it.





On the subject of getting over it, Brisbane halfback Benny Hunt can expect to cop similar cheap shots to what he got from Eels fans wherever he plays this season.

Hunt dropped the ball cold in golden-point extra-time in last year's grand final.

Did it cost the Broncos the game? No.

Will fans let him forget it any time soon? No.

Just ask South African cricketer Herschelle Gibbs who still lives with the famous jibe "You've just dropped the World Cup, mate", after grassing Australian captain Steve Waugh in the 1999 World Cup.

No matter how much Bennett defends Hunt over the dropped ball, the only person who can dismiss it from his mind is Ben Hunt.

Meanwhile, the debut of the NRL's biggest single investment in the game, the $2 million "Bunker" at Redfern, proved an instant winner, overturning two on-field refereeing decisions in quick time on Thursday night.

The high-tech command centre, with a host of TV replay screens and slow motion advancement, provides an array of angles and can detect the smallest details for three officials to examine - and it worked brilliantly.

When on-field officials awarded a try to Parramatta centre Michael Jennings that potentially could have made the score 14-10 midway through the second half, the Bunker swung into action like a military exercise and with four or five looks, not the usual 10-15, they overturned the decision to "NO TRY".

It also reversed another decision after a try was awarded to Brisbane winger Corey Oates, but replays showed the Broncos big man had not grounded the ball.

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