IT HAS taken him a little time to adapt to Super League but Benny Roberts is now certainly established as one of its leading half-backs.
That is why St Helens will need to pay just as much attention to the silky Kiwi tonight as they do his Castleford Tigers colleague Luke Gale, the scrum-half hoping for England selection, whose drop-goal secured last week’s dramatic win at Hull FC.
On his arrival on these shores from Melbourne Storm last term, there was sporadic signs of Roberts’ flair and guile, often from hooker or full-back.
However, he got an extended run in his preferred role of No6 at the end of the year and has flourished since head coach Daryl Powell effectively let him know it was his slot for 2016 by allowing Liam Finn to move to rivals Wakefield Trinity.
“I’m obviously happy,” he said, as Castleford seek to extend their unbeaten start to the season by winning at Saints for the first time since 1992.
“I played a few different positions last year but I suppose that had to do with me finding my feet here and understanding the gameplan for what Powelly wanted.
“I think the best way for me to do that was probably play hooker and full-back and see from there.
“So, getting a crack at the back end of last year was good and I obviously got a lot of confidence out of that.
“My confidence has only grown over pre-season as well having more time playing there.”
One of his own highlights last term was the last-second drop goal that snatched a 25-24 win over Saints at Wheldon Road.
“It was a pretty good night that so hopefully we’ll replicate it Friday and come home with the points,” added the 30-year-old.
“That (winless) record (at Saints) has been brought up during the week but we’re not thinking too much about it and are just thinking about going to get the job done.
“We’re not expecting anything different to what we normally get there – a tough game. They probably haven’t had the best start but we know they’re capable of turning that around this week.”
Saints edged home at Hull KR last Friday to kick-start their campaign but there were signs in the west of the city the previous night that Castleford could be the team to watch out for this campaign.
“We showed a lot of character to come back from going behind at Hull,” admitted Roberts.
“It’s something we’ve worked on in pre-season. At the start of pre-season we said we needed to be a bit tougher mentally and we showed that last week.
“And then it was a cracking kick from Galey, too, so credit to him for that.
“Our partnership is going well. The only way I can help Galey is to do my job and let him concentrate on his and that’s what I’m going to do.
“Saints obviously have a smart half-back in Luke Walsh, too, who I know from the NRL.
“He’s got a good set of skills and we’ll have to make sure we’re always on our toes and ready for anything.”