Born: 8 July, 1985 – Sydney, NSW
Test record: 5 Tests (2006-07) – 3 goals (6 points)
Tours: 2007 tour of Great Britain and France
Livewire half Ben Roberts played five Tests for New Zealand during the first two seasons of his NRL career with the Bulldogs.
Born in Sydney, Roberts attended renowned rugby league nursery Fairfield Patrician Brothers and represented the Australian Schoolboys in 2003.
Roberts emerged as a back-up to the Bulldogs’ premiership-winning halves duo of Brent Sherwin and Braith Anasta and made his NRL debut during 2006. After just three games in the top grade, he was chosen at five-eighth – partnering Stacey Jones in the halves – in New Zealand’s 46-14 mid-season loss to Great Britain at St Helens, one of two NRL-based players in the Super League-dominated line-up.
Opportunities were scarce during Roberts’ rookie year, but he laid on a memorable golden point match-winning try for Mark O’Meley in his fourth first-grade game against the Warriors and filled in at centre in both of the second-placed Bulldogs’ finals matches.
There was no place for the 21-year-old in the Kiwis’ Four Nations squad but he starred in New Zealand A’s demolition of a star-studded Australian Invitational side in Melbourne, scoring three tries in the 48-18 victory.
With Anasta joining Sydney Roosters, Roberts became a Bulldogs regular in 2007 and wore the Kiwis’ No.7 jersey in the 30-6 Anzac Test loss to the Kangaroos in Brisbane. He played five-eighth in the record 58-0 defeat to the green-and-golds in Wellington at the end of the season before touring Britain and France with the Kiwis, featuring in the 28-22 third-Test loss to Great Britain and kicking three goals in the 22-14 win over France after starting in the No.6 in both.
That would be the end of Roberts’ short tenure in the New Zealand set-up, but he went on to represent Samoa at the 2008, 2013 and 2017 World Cups, as well as playing a key role in the Pacific nation’s impressive 2014 Four Nations campaign.
The diminutive playmaker left Canterbury after 93 appearances at the end of 2011 and was a regular – if oft-maligned – top-liner for Parramatta in 2012-13. He linked with heavyweights Melbourne in 2014 and played 18 first-grade games with the Storm looking to fill the breach left by five-eighth Gareth Widdop’s departure to St George Illawarra.
Roberts subsequently headed to England, spending the next five seasons with rising force Castleford. He featured in the Tigers’ 2017 grand final loss to Leeds Rhinos and hung up the boots with more than 200 games in the NRL and Super League to his credit.