The last few months have been pretty special for Huddersfield Giants youngster Oliver Roberts.
The 20-year-old spent the back-end of last year on the fringes of the Giants team, and didn’t play a competitive game for four months.
He spent time earlier in the 2015 season on dual-registration with Oldham, however due to rules meaning a player must either stay with his parent club or his dual-reg club after the mid-season league split, the Giants were forced to bring him back as a standby.
It was a frustrating time for the youngster, however a berth in the Ireland side for the autumn European Championships gave Roberts the opportunity he had been craving.
Fast forward to the start of the 2016 season and Roberts has become a mainstay in the Giants team after impressing during the club’s ongoing injury crisis that has culminated in the star signing a new four-year deal with the club.
However, Roberts is more focused on embracing his rookie year with the club than thinking about the future.
“I’ve loved playing week in week out,” he told TotalRL.
“It’s been really good for me and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a shame about the results, but it’s still only the start of the season and we’ve had a bit of an injury crisis. The lads have dug in and I think we can push on now.”
Roberts admitted last year was a difficult transition to make.
“When you’re stuck at 18th man you’re doing a lot of fitness after the game but you aren’t getting any game time.
“I could have qualified to carry on playing for Oldham but then I wouldn’t have been able to play for Huddersfield if the chance had come along. I was busting to get a game, but the team was too strong for me then. It was a difficult time of the year. Things like that get to you after a bit. I just had to brush it off and see it as a learning year. I took as much information from the other players as I could and I went to play for Ireland.”
That opportunity proved fruitful for Roberts, who performed magnificently for Ireland and even earned praise from team-mate and Scotland counterpart Danny Brough.
It also gave him an opportunity to work with Giants compatriot Scott Grix in the off-season, providing him with some crucial preparation for his maiden year in the team.
“I have to say thanks to Scott Grix, when I came back from Ireland camp I went to his gym in Halifax every other day and he flogged me. Grixy really helped me on those stepping stones, because when I came back for pre-season I was the fittest I’ve been and it really helped.”
Roberts will get his first opportunity to play at Headingley tonight as the Giants make the short journey to face Leeds. Both clubs are still looking for their first victories of the year, and Roberts admits it is a crucial clash for the two teams.
“I’m buzzing. I’m really excited to get a game there. The boys say it is a great atmosphere, especially on Sky. It’s a real good opportunity.
“It’s a real big game. It’s important to us confidence wise. We need a win under our belts. We have certain players back, but there’s been a real imbalance to the team because of injuries. It does have an effect on the team, but I think we’re just going to knuckle down and go from here now.”