From the NRL’s wanted list to the Championship: International forward hoping to find himself again

Drew Darbyshire
Oliver Roberts Ireland SWpix

Photo: Daniel Carson/

Ollie Roberts is a man on a mission to get back to playing his best rugby again after linking up with Championship club Sheffield. 

This time five years ago, Roberts was attracting interest from the NRL after a stunning World Cup campaign with Ireland.

But there have been a couple of bumps in the road for Roberts since then. The former Huddersfield forward spent time on loan at Salford and Halifax before making the permanent move to Newcastle Thunder in the Championship.

Roberts suffered a serious injury whilst in the north east. He had to have surgery to re-attach his tendon to his hamstring.

But the Irish forward wants to put his injury nightmare behind him now as he enters the upcoming Championship season with new club Sheffield.

Does he want to be back in Super League? Yes. Is he rushing into it? No. He wants to just get back to playing his best rugby with the Eagles.

“There is a question mark on it because I’m enjoying myself that much now,” Roberts told Love Rugby League when asked about his ambitions to play in Super League again.

“I’m 28 now and I’m trying to find a career that I want to do alongside my rugby. I know my rugby won’t last forever so I’m just trying to find a career to go alongside that.

“I had that injury at Newcastle when I had to have the tendon re-attached to my hamstring. That was a wake up call. If I find a job that works alongside my rugby and I’m enjoying it, then it’d have to be really something worth going full-time for again.

“I owe so much to Mark (Aston, Sheffield coach) for what he’s put into me. He wants me back in Super League so the dream is to be back in Super League but it’d have to work for me.

“I do aspire to be back there carving it up”

“He wants me to get back to being the player I was for him at the (2017) World Cup when NRL clubs were trying to sign me. I was playing for Huddersfield so I want to find that player again – he’s still in there – I just need to find him.”

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Ollie Roberts made up to link up with Mark Aston again

The opportunity to work with his “rugby dad” Mark Aston again was a big pull in Roberts making the move to Sheffield.

Roberts played under Aston when the latter coached Ireland at the 2017 World Cup.

“I speak to Mark every couple of weeks anyway, he’s like my rugby dad,” Roberts told Love Rugby League.

“If I had a good or bad game on TV, he’d ring me blowing my legs off or he’d praise me. I’ve always had a good relationship and a laugh with him.

“He knows me really well and knows my family and he rung me and told me the direction Sheffield were going in and what the club were building. When he told me about the signings he was hoping to make, then it was a no-brainer for me really.

“He’s someone that believes in you and that will tell you the home truths without it coming across in a bad way. His man management skills with me are unbelievable, he knows how to speak to me and knows what triggers me.

“He pulled me up the other day and had a deep chat with me. He keeps pushing me on and driving me, so I can’t praise him enough.

“He’s got his funny old ways and his little mind games that he likes to play but we can laugh and joke about them. That’s just us.”

Eagles flying high ahead of new season

Sheffield have enjoyed an impressive recruitment drive over the off-season. They have brought the likes of Jesse Sene-Lefao, Aaron Murphy, Cory Aston and Jack Hansen to the Olympic Legacy Park.

The team is full of confidence ahead of the new season, according to Roberts.

He added: “I’ve been in teams before were the team spirit was been really high. Huddersfield was unbelievable but I think it’s on another level at Sheffield.

“The team morale and togetherness there that Mark, Simon Brown and Keith Senior have created there is unbelievable.

“They are a really good set of guys and they were so welcoming. It didn’t even feel like a new club when I went in and joined them.”

Sheffield get their Championship campaign underway at Halifax on Sunday, February 5.

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