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Ben Roberts is rugby league’s craziest off-season signing

It's the battle of western Sydney as the Parramatta Eels take on the Canterbury Bulldogs. (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Robb Cox)
Expert
28th January, 2014
77
6135 Reads

I’ll admit I have laughed out loud at some of the horrendous mistakes Ben Roberts has made with Parramatta and his previous club, Canterbury.

And I chuckled again last week when Roberts was picked up by Melbourne Storm as one of their major signings for 2014.

The reason for my mirth is I just don’t think B. Roberts is up to first grade standard.

He has a penchant for doing something good in the heat of battle then a few minutes later, he’ll invariably follow it up with something you’d frown at watching the Under 9s in park football.

It could be a slick-stepping Roberts try through a forest of tacklers but then we’ll agonise over a kick out on the full, a shocking one-on-one missed tackle, or a torpedo pass into the side of a teammate’s melon.

I seriously doubt Craig Bellamy’s wisdom in signing Roberts.

History shows the coach has had a degree of success with unwanted players such as Jaiman Lowe, Bryan Norrie and Jason Ryles.

But to me, the notion of playing the erratic Roberts alongside megastars such as Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk is a tad on the crazy side.

Does Bellamy see something in him that most of us do not?

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Does he really think he can stop, or at least harness, this player’s brain explosions when pressured?

Wasn’t there anyone else Melbourne could have snapped up to fill the void created by Gareth Widdop’s departure to St George-Illawarra?

I may appear to be harsh when discussing Ben Roberts and this signing but I have seen and commented on enough rugby league over 30 years to have an opinion.

Roberts has ability, there is absolutely no doubt about that.

He has played top grade football for two NRL clubs and has represented New Zealand in five internationals, along with seven for his native Samoa.

But he is a Storm boy now, trying to make his mark in a team known for its rigid structures and wall-to-wall discipline over an 80 minute game.

I just cannot see him making a fist of it (and if I am wrong, I will readily admit it and don the dunce’s cap right here on The Roar).

After giving this curious signing plenty of thought, I believe he will hurt more than help Melbourne in their quest for 2014 honours.

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And the coach will be left holding a proverbial firecracker in his hands with a blackened face.