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Roberts not burdend by Joey Johns' legacy

Tyrone Roberts has brushed aside the pressure of wearing the No.7 shirt for Newcastle and is confident he can outshine Melbourne's Cooper Cronk on Saturday.
Roberts not burdend by Joey Johns' legacy
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, Sept 16 AAP - Tyrone Roberts has brushed aside the pressure of wearing the No.7 shirt for Newcastle and is confident he can outshine Melbourne's Cooper Cronk on Saturday.

Roberts became the first halfback since Andrew Johns in 2006 to steer the Knights to a finals victory with an assured display in Sunday's 22-6 success over Canterbury.

Newcastle have struggled to find a genuine replacement for the eighth Immortal since he drew the curtain on his magnificent career in 2007.

Scott Dureau, Luke Walsh, Ben Rogers, Kurt Gidley, Ryan Stig and Jarrod Mullen have all played halfback with mixed success before Roberts made the position his own last season.

The 22-year-old has made steady progress under Wayne Bennett's coaching but admits the Johns milestone could become a burden.

"I get asked about Joey all the time," Roberts told AAP.

"He's one of the greatest players in the history of rugby league, I'm just a young bloke making my way in the game and learning as I go on.

"I've never tried to emulate him. I just want to play my own game. There's a great deal of pressure that comes from being halfback for this club.

"But I realise it's a privilege to get the chance to follow in his footsteps."

Roberts, whose cousins are former St George Illawarra, Penrith and Sydney Roosters star Amos Roberts and Panthers up and comer James Roberts, has been in the Knights' system since he was a teenager having moved down from Grafton in northern NSW.

Although he hasn't spoken too much to Johns, who's now employed as Manly's halves coach, he credits the 39-year-old with helping his development earlier in his career.

"I spent some time working with Joey when he put on some sessions when I was a junior," he said.

"He really worked on building my confidence and made me realise me how important it is to talk when your a halfback.

"That's not something that comes naturally to me but he made me realise that my teammates expect and need me do it." Roberts will face a much stiffer test than the one put up by a disappointing Bulldogs side on Sunday from the Storm at AAMI Park.

The Knights haven't won in Melbourne since 2004 but the young playmaker is relishing the prospect of going head to head with Cronk.

"I've had my first taste of finals football and I know the intensity is going to crank up a notch in Melbourne," he said.

"Cooper is a player I really admire and have watched closely over the years.

"But you can't go into a game like this over-awed ... I just need to play my natural game.

"I know it's going to be tough, but we've nothing to lose down there."


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