James Roberts of the Broncos with the ball during the Round 9 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Thursday, April 27, 2017.
James Roberts of the Broncos with the ball during the Round 9 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Thursday, April 27, 2017. AAP Image - Glenn Hunt

James Roberts' ankle injury puts Origin in question

JAMES Roberts' incredible rise to the cusp of State of Origin has hit a hurdle after "The Jet" suffered a potentially serious ankle injury in Thursday night's 32-18 win against Penrith.

Roberts was at his brilliant best for the Broncos in front of 21,464 at Suncorp Stadium last night, tearing Penrith to shreds as Brisbane moved into the NRL top four.

But he was carried from the field following some friendly fire from Broncos teammate Matt Gillett in the dying minutes.

It was only last week that Broncos coach Wayne Bennett declared Roberts was ready to make his Origin debut for the Blues, but those dreams could have been dashed in the unfortunate incident.

"He'll get some x-rays. He certainly has an injury there," Bennett said.

"He's playing great. If you're going to get injured you want to be playing good.

"We're picking up injuries but still getting the job done.

"We lost Ben Hunt (hamstring) and nobody blinks an eye because we're a confident footy team. He's a huge player in our team, but that's the way we make them at the Broncos.

"If we lose James for a while we'll get someone in there and get the job done.

"We're in a good position and playing good football. We haven't had a bad game all season and we're committed."

Another controversial decision by The Bunker killed any chance of Penrith kicking off in style and the Panthers showed little resistance once the tide turned against them to sink to their fifth straight defeat.

The Broncos on the other hand are sitting pretty near the top of the ladder following an encouraging start to the season with six wins from nine rounds, including four straight victories.

Brisbane's form had not been convincing with their previous eight matches decided by single-figure margins, but the most important thing is they are winning and Bennett will be pleased with where the Broncos are sitting with the dreaded State of Origin period looming.

There was little Griffin, the man sacked to make way for Bennett's return to Red Hill, could do in the away coaches box as the Panthers turned in what could only be described as a deplorable first half effort.

The Panthers missed 31 tackles in the opening stanza as Brisbane bounced out to a 22-0 lead and that is the sign of a team lacking dedication and desire.

Having entered the season with one of the most talented squads in the competition, Griffin is now fighting to salvage Penrith's season with just two wins from nine games.

It could have been a golden start for the Panthers, but The Bunker denied prop James Tamou what looked to be a try in the fifth minute and the controversial call seemed to kill whatever enthusiasm Penrith had.

"It was interesting," Griffin said of the decision.

"I thought if it was on the halfway line it's play-on. We can't be whinging about calls.

"We're killing ourselves. They got their points in the softest ways.

"It's a really big learning curve. The competition has got its foot on our throat.

"The only way we're going to get out of it is to get tough and keep coming.

"There's no easy way out of it but we will get out of it."

Roberts found space to put Kodi Nikorima over then raced 85m after beating three defenders to score his eighth try of the season and extend Brisbane's lead.

News Corp Australia

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