Oliver Roberts has become an integral part of the Salford Red Devils since moving on a season-long loan in 2020.
It’s a remarkable circle of events, considering that was the club where it all started.
“I started my scholarship through Salford at under-15s and under-16s level, but then I had the opportunity to take a contract at a few clubs and Bradford was the one that stood out to me at the time,” says Roberts.
“Bradford was an amazing club and I loved every minute of my time there and made my Super League debut with them.”
Following the Bulls’ demise, Roberts moved to Huddersfield in 2015, the club he is still contracted to.
“My move to Huddersfield came about when Bradford sadly went into administration again and my agent contacted me and said Huddersfield were keen on signing me and it all went from there,” he explains.
“Paul Anderson was the coach at the time and Huddersfield were amazing with me when making the move.
“Richard Thewlis (the Giants’ Managing Director) was nothing but helpful and went above and beyond for me, so I owe him massively.”
The rampaging forward also spent loan spells at Sheffield and Oldham.
“My loan spell at Sheffield came about in my first year at Huddersfield and that’s how I made the link with Ireland as Mark Aston was the coach of both.
“Mark was amazing; I only did a month’s loan, as we also linked with Oldham on dual-registration, so I got a good few games for them playing against men and getting some game time.”
One of Roberts’ main achievements is turning out for Ireland, which he did in the World Cup of 2017. And with the Rugby League World Cup approaching in 2021 he is hoping to appear for the Wolfhounds again on the international stage.
“Playing for Ireland is brilliant and it gives me a chance to play for myself and my family and make them proud,” he says.
“Scott Grix was a massive part in me playing for Ireland and he mentored me a lot through the games and the last World Cup.
“I would also like to give a massive thanks to Mark Aston; I know he’s no longer the Ireland coach, but I look at him as a family member and still talk to him on a regular basis.
“He still watches my games now and gives me tips and takes the mickey out of me – we have a good laugh every time we talk and we put the world’s wrongs to right.
“The World Cup this year is going to be something special for Ireland with some great challenging games.
“The new coaching team are superb, with Stu Littler and Ged Corcoran, who’s been a part of the Ireland setup since I remember.”
Before the tournament arrives though, Roberts knows he has to be playing to a high standard with another season-long loan at Salford in place for 2021.
“We have a good squad for the World Cup and I am really looking forward to getting back in to camp with the boys and building for these games (against Jamaica, Lebanon and New Zealand. The New Zealand game stands out to me as the one I’m most excited about.
“But before we get to the World Cup I want to have a good season playing some regular rugby week-in, week-out.
“For me to do that, I need to complete a good pre-season, knuckle down and keep improving and learning my game.”
The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.