Roberts has need for NRL speed in 2020

A fit-again and leaner James Roberts is primed for a big 2020 NRL season with South Sydney.
A fit-again and leaner James Roberts is primed for a big 2020 NRL season with South Sydney.

The stage might be set for a foot race between North Queensland's Perth Nines revelation Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Melbourne flyer Josh Addo-Carr to decide the NRL's fastest player.

But, South Sydney's James Roberts is backing himself to reclaim the crown after overcoming an ongoing achilles complaint before Saturday's NRL All Stars clash on the Gold Coast.

Roberts admitted the Nines heroics of Tabuai-Fidow had caught his attention.

So much so that he was niggling teammate Addo-Carr - nicknamed "The Fox" - when they arrived in the Indigenous team camp for the Maori All Stars clash.

"I have heard about him (Tabuai-Fidow). We were geeing up Foxy," Roberts laughed.

"It would be interesting to see him and Fox have a race. But I will leave that race to them. I couldn't be bothered - I will save it for the field."

Roberts believes he can rediscover his pace that had once earned him the title of NRL's fastest player.

Buoyed by a rare full pre-season after years of battling injury, Roberts said his priority was consistent football at South Sydney.

Asked if he could reclaim the "NRL's fastest" tag, Roberts said: "You have to back yourself.

"I am not really worried about that tag. But if someone wants to give it to me, I will have it."

Roberts has lost 8.5kg in the off-season to manage the achilles issue.

"It does get frustrating, especially when you want to take off fast which is my best part of my game, my acceleration, my speed," he said.

"Hopefully, we see a bit more of it - time will tell.

"(But) the off-season was about getting my weight down and helping with my achilles. It's been bothering me for the last few years.

"Hopefully, it works this year."

Roberts struggled to find his feet at the Rabbitohs after a 2019 mid-season release from Brisbane.

But a fit-again Roberts said he was in the mindset to find top form - and it seems, top speed.

"Obviously, it (2019) wasn't my best year. There were a few things going on (at Broncos), a few different disagreements within the relationship," Roberts said.

"I never wanted to leave but everything happens for a reason - there are no regrets.

"I am at club that is a very welcoming, got a good group there. Now I want to get back to my best."

Australian Associated Press