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Wests Tigers star James Roberts admits he once considered "throwing it all in" and retiring from rugby league during his struggles with injuries and mental health.
27-year-old Roberts, who is widely regarded as one of the most exciting centres in the NRL, took the brave decision to step away from the game last season in a bid work on his mental health.
In May he plucked up the courage and took himself to a treatment centre to seek help, meaning he only played a handful of games in the 2020 season for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Jimmy The Jet's extended time off, combined with a niggling season-ending pectoral injury, meant he was subsequently released by the Bunnies before eventually being snapped up by the Tigers on a two-year deal.
And after scoring a try in the Tigers' 52-18 trial win over Manly on the weekend, Roberts gave a brutally-honest post-match interview which touched on his road to recovery - and it looks like he's on the right path.
"At one stage, I was thinking of throwing it all in and just getting away from rugby league, the media and all negative stuff and all the pressures [to] just focus on my family and live a normal life," Roberts said.
"Luckily, I had some time away and I found that hunger again. I found a good balance with my family and I'm just enjoying everything.
"I got everything with my family in order and then [after] having a long think about it, I realised I really do love the game and it's my dream to do what I do.
"I thought I would just give it another crack and just enjoy it more instead of making it my job. I just enjoy coming to training and laughing with the boys.
"I've changed my whole mindset. Just being grateful for my job and the opportunity that I have and I'm just enjoying my footy.
"Not worrying about the pressures and that outside noice. Just doing what I know I'm capable of. Just enjoying my day-to-day life as well outside of footy.
"I've got a clear head... there's a lot to look forward to at the club."
The Wests Tigers, under the guidance of trusted Premiership-winning head coach Michale Maguire, take on competition favourites the Canberra Raiders in Round 1 of the 2021 NRL season.
Maguire and Roberts have butted heads in the past, with Maguire infamously sacking the speedster in 2012 while the two were at South Sydney together.
But this time, Roberts insists things are different.
"Over the years we've had our differences," he said.
"I was a lot younger and a lot wilder. I had a few things going on. My priorities weren't in order.
"Now I'm in a good mind frame and it's good to work with him and try and excel my game on and off the field and help the young lads. He's been really supportive of me and helped me a lot. And so is the club as well, so I'm really thankful for that."
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@nrl_weststigers
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