In the multi-talented family of Castleford utility Ben Roberts, it’s hard to stand out as a professional sportsman.
Roberts, who grew up in Sydney but has Samoan and New Zealand heritage, made nearly 150 appearances in the NRL and played for the Kiwis and Toa Samoa before moving to Super League to join the Tigers in 2015.
The 30-year old has already appeared in two World Cups and played with and against some of the best rugby league stars on the planet, like Billy Slater and Jarryd Hayne, but he’s not the biggest sporting name in his extended clan.
Not when your family includes an ex-English Premier League footballer on one side, and several former All Blacks on another.
Roberts’ cousin is former Everton and Millwall midfielder Tim Cahill. Now 36, Cahill has starred in three FIFA World Cups and he is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest ever soccer players.
Cahill’s volley against the Netherlands in Brazil in 2014 was regarded as one of the best goals of that tournament.
Now playing in China, Cahill is still banging in the goals and has set his sights on reaching a fourth FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018.
Roberts grew up in the same city as Cahill and his two brothers, with backyard sporting contests a regular feature.
“The Cahill clan have always been skilful soccer players,” the stand-off says.
“If we ever went to their place it was to play soccer. If they came to our place it was to play rugby.
“They’ve obviously got all the football skills in them and we’ve got all the rugby skills on our side.”
Roberts is related to Cahill through their Samoan parents, with Roberts’ father and Cahill’s mother first-cousins, and on the other side of the Cahill clan are relations in Canterbury Bulldogs utility Chase Stanley, former St George Illawarra playmaker Kyle Stanley, Harlequins centre Winston Stanley and ex-All Blacks Benson Stanley and Joe Stanley.
“They’re on the other side of Tim’s family as well,” Roberst explains.
“Because we are a very family-orientated family, Tim will say that’s the number one thing.
“We have that support but also family that loves sport itself. I think maybe looking back the family probably looked at sport as an escape to get ahead in life.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have parents who support us and give us the tools to do what we do.”
Cahill arrived in the UK as a teenager and worked his way to the top of English football. He led Millwall to the FA Cup final in 2004 and made more the 250 appearances for Everton.
Since leaving the Premier League in 2012 Cahill has gone on to win silverware with the New York Red Bulls and help Australian claim the Asian Cup last year.
Roberts says his cousin remains an inspiration to him.
“Always having chats with him now and then, he’s always been big on recovery,” the Samoan international says.
“He’s the ultimate professional when it comes to looking after his body and that’s one thing he’s always told me to strive for.
“If you want to keep playing the game you’ve got to look after your body so you can perform at your peak.
“That’s probably one main thing that I’ve taken from him.
“But I don’t know where he gets the energy from. He’s a couple of years older than me.”
Roberts, who has played in the NRL for the Eels, Bulldogs and Storm, is hoping for a successful season ahead with Castleford.
He speaks to Cahill for advice and the forward is a model for Roberts, both on and off the field, on how to conduct yourself as an athlete.
“I think the latest thing is he’s in a wax museum in Sydney,” Roberts says.
“He’s put a few pictures up. We take the mickey out of him but I think we’re just jealous.
“But when we’re around him, he’s always just been him. He’s always been the same person.
“It probably doesn’t click in our minds how much of a superstar he is, he being so humble.
“When we’re always talking, it’s mate we’re really proud of you. And he knows that and he just wants to keep getting better and better.
“At that age  most blokes are still struggling to get around. But Tim says he feels like he’s 18 and he’s not even thinking about retiring at the moment, so good on him.”