Rising Roberts outshining million-dollar man
COMETH the hour, cometh the man - but it wasn't the man Gold Coast expected.
When talismanic skipper Ryan James went down against the Raiders on Sunday with a potentially season-ending knee injury, it wasn't million-dollar halfback Ash Taylor or 250-gamer Michael Gordon who stepped up to the plate and led the side.
That duty fell to veteran playmaker Tyrone Roberts, who shrugged off a frustrating month to deliver his best ever performance in a Titans jersey.
After missing the better part of three games, Roberts scored a try and set up another in their Round 5 win over Penrith before turning things up a notch against Newcastle.
Two tries, one line break, one try assist, one line break assist, and 21 kicks for 647 metres - throw in two forced drop outs for good measure.
Those numbers are even more incredible when stacked up against Roberts' million-dollar stablemate, Ash Taylor, who has been quiet since making his return in Round 4.
But Gold Coast's golden boy didn't need to work wonders on Sunday because Roberts took charge, especially when handed the captaincy.
"Because Tyrone was the dominant half out there at the time, I thought he was the best man to lead the team and it showed, he did a good job," Titans coach Garth Brennan said.
"He lead the team around, probably cost us one (try) with that one to Barnett but he made up for it with the two (tries). He's experienced, he's got a lot of game-time under his belt (and) he knows how to control a game."
Roberts' finesse in attack has largely diverted attention from his defence, which has been exposed by the likes of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and James Maloney in recent weeks, but there's no denying his class with ball in hand.
Brennan will likely name him as interim captain while James' injury is assessed and with Roberts finally hitting his straps after last year's Super League hiatus, the coach can sit back knowing his are in safe hands.
"He's a good player, there's no doubt about that. I was very fortunate to get him back," Brennan said.
With Roberts set to head up a leadership group bolstered by Gordon, Anthony Don, Dale Copely and Mitch Rein, concerns now shift to the Titans' injury-ravaged pack.
Clouds remain over James, Kevin Proctor (hip/quad) and Keegan Hipgrave (back) while Nathan Peats (pectoral) is unlikely to return before July.
However Gold Coast fans can take heart in the efforts of Moeaki Fotuaika, Jack Stockwell, Jai Whitbread and Max King, who combined for 383 metres and six tackle busts in a brave effort from the young quartet.