Roberts To Face Hometown Hero Inglis
Not many get the chance to play against their childhood idol, but Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues outside back James Roberts will be doing it at least twice in Origin by lining up on Sunday night against Queensland captain Greg Inglis in the centres.
Both Roberts and Inglis were born and raised in Kempsey, on the New South Wales mid-north coast, which is where their family ties still lie.
Despite Inglis choosing to play for Queensland in Origin, the Kangaroos centre would forever be the player that Roberts looked up to as one of the game's greatest.
"He's always been a role model for me," Roberts said. "I think he's one of the best centres to play the game and he sets the bar for all centres.
"He's what I strive to be and for what he has accomplished in the game he deserves all the credit."
Roberts knew coming up against Inglis in game one at the MCG wasn't going to be a walk in the park.
An aggressive Inglis took Roberts head-on in both attack and bone-rattling defence. But that hasn't phased Roberts as he's eager to get his hands on the ball and face up to Inglis once again.
"Coming back from that knee injury and being the captain for the first time for Queensland he was due for a big one," Roberts said.
"And he was on fire the lad.
"But it's a new game now so hopefully I can get my hands on the ball more and just make sure I'm making all my tackles and hopefully do him up a little bit."
At ANZ Stadium on Sunday night NSW will be looking to break Queensland's domination over the past 12 years - with the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues only winning the one series in 2014.
Roberts told NRL.com that half of his family - even though they reside in NSW - have followed Queensland purely for the fact that there has always been a high representation of Indigenous players in the Maroons.
But in the past couple of years NSW has called on their Indigenous players in the game to make their mark, with four Indigenous players in this year's side: Roberts, Josh Addo-Carr, Tyrone Peachey and Latrell Mitchell.
Roberts said if they are able to get the win on Sunday than hopefully his family could start supporting their own state.
"It's really good that we have a few Indigenous players in this NSW side," Roberts said.
"It's a great achievement for all our people and a real special moment for us and our families. Seeing how proud everyone is of us from our first win and how special it's going to be if we do get the win this weekend, it will be a dream come true.
"But I'm sick of seeing half my family going for Queensland... so hopefully we get everyone back and get them to stay loyal from now on."