Roberts has faith Tigers can roar in 2017 without him
RUGBY LEAGUE: Injured Norths captain Josh Roberts insists the Tigers can still go all the way in the Ipswich A Grade competition and has given his replacement Lewis Smith the seal of approval.
Roberts, on crutches after breaking his leg against Brothers, spoke to the QT after watching a brave and impressive Norths narrowly lose 36-30 to defending premiers Goodna on Sunday.
Roberts won back-to-back premierships with Norths in 2014 and 2015 and while he won't be playing in the season decider this year, he reckons the Tigers can still go all the way.
"There are certain times when you play that you can smell a premiership," he said.
"This year was one of those years, and we are still a good chance.
"We just lost to the best side in the comp by one try so we have proved we can match it with the best.
"It is just a case of going on with it now."
There is no good time to break your leg, but for Roberts it came just as he could almost touch another finals' campaign.
"It is obviously very disappointing," he said.
"It is a long season and to miss out on playing in the finals by two games hurts . . . but that is football I guess.
"I knew as soon as it happened that I was gone and something was terribly wrong. I knew my season was over.
"I've broken the fibula.
"There is a plate up the side and all the ligaments had to be fixed up, so there is a bolt right through the ankle as well.
"I've got six weeks with no weight on it and in 12 weeks hopefully I will be back to full fitness.
"That is the plan."
Roberts was impressed with the skill and courage of Smith, the man who has replaced him in the number six jersey.
"He had a target on his back out there. There were plenty of shots after he passed the ball but that is what you expect as a half," Roberts said.
"You are going to get pressure put on you and he handled it really well.
"Lewis took some heavy knocks, kept shaking himself off and got back up.
"As long as they are shooting at him it gives plenty of room each side for his runners to hit holes."
Roberts gave every indication that his hunger to win premierships still burns inside him.
"It is a good feeling when you win, and something you want to continually do," he said.
While he won't do that this year, with his old partner in creating havoc Steve West in the number seven jersey, the Tiger tragic will retain the faith.
"For a 50-year-old, Westy is killing it out there," Roberts grinned.
"He is like a good red wine that just gets better with age.
"When you come up against Goodna it is all about putting your body on the line."
Roberts started at Norths in under 13s and loves the club dearly.
He has juggled rugby league and baseball commitments throughout his sporting career.
Roberts has played in the US, represented Australia and captained the Brisbane Bandits in the national league.
Now it is all about getting fit to resume duties with the Ipswich Musketeers in the Brisbane competition.
"I'll get back to full fitness but it just means the season will start a bit later," he said.
Talk to Roberts and you soon realise he firmly believes Norths will be there on grand final day.
"If we bring our A game we can match it with any team in the comp'. We proved it (against Goodna) and we proved it out at Fassifern when we beat them," he said.
"Defence wins comps and if we can get that right we know we can match it in attack with any team.
"Our forwards were probably out-weighed by 200 or 300 kilos but they put their body on the line and worked for each other in the middle.
"Guys like Westy, Scano (Chris Scanlan), Chook (Jacob Stephan) and Chris Porter gave that bit extra and stood up.
"That is what it is going to take. Lewis will go out there and do his job and things will go right for us."