For Tyrone Roberts, his signing with the Aquis Titans for next season was about a homecoming and a new challenge to kick-start his career.
But he is also excited about a family reunion too – with the club’s record-matching try-scorer James Roberts who he grew up with at Ballina on the NSW far north coast.
The pair, with Titans forward Caleb Binge, learned their skills in backyard games in the town before Roberts left for Newcastle and Roberts for Sydney to chase their NRL dreams, and Binge went through the NYC ranks at the Titans.
Tyrone, who is a cousin of James’ mother, is two years older than “Jimmy” but they made their NRL debuts just six days apart in 2011 – Tyrone for the Knights against Cronulla in round six and James for South Sydney against Canterbury in round seven.
In 2016 their careers will bring them back together and the pair are proud and excited.
“I’m excited to play with Jimmy; he’s been in great form this season,” said 24-year-old halfback Tyrone who has signed with the Aquis Titans for the next two seasons.
“Our families would be proud to see us play NRL together. I was talking to him for a couple of weeks about coming up there and he was really encouraging and gave me an insight and said I would be happy at the Titans.”
The pair were close when they daily threw a football around after school but with the two years’ difference in age never played club football together and James was nine when he left Ballina. But they have remained close and both are looking forward to finally running out onto the field together and will work hard in the coming off-season to ensure it happens.
“I’m real excited he’s coming here and hopefully it will give his career and boost like the move here did for me,” said Roberts.
“I know he can be a success here and being close to family and at a great cub with the support of the boys here will help.”
Tyrone was at first keen to remain at Newcastle after the Knights signed current NSW State of Origin halfback Trent Hodkinson but is now excited about the move at the end of this season, although focussed on a strong finish for the Knights after starring with a two-try performance in the victory over Wests Tigers on Saturday.
“It’s what’s best for me, a change of scenery and a new challenge,” he said. “My partner is really keen to move up there and the family is really excited for us to be closer.
“I have two sisters and one brother in Ballina plus a lot of other relatives there too and it’s just an hour or so down the road.
"I want a fresh start. This year hasn’t been good so I want to leave that behind me and play well for the Titans next year.
“Career wise I’ve probably taken a backward step this year as I’ve struggled a bit with the Knights struggling for form too, so I’m hoping this will be a good step forward for me.”