Wayne Bennett insists South Sydney aren't taking a risk signing James Roberts, adamant that he can get the best out of the former NSW centre in the right environment.
The Rabbitohs have signed Roberts on a two-and-a-half year deal after he was granted a release from the Brisbane Broncos on Wednesday, reuniting the maligned centre with Bennett after six months apart.
Roberts, who had previously been sacked by the Rabbitohs as a teenager, returns to his junior club to add some much needed strike power to an injury-ravaged backline.
But given concerns over his behaviour and attitude north of the border in recent months, much of the focus will be how he adjusts to life off the field.
Not that Bennett shares those feelings.
"I have no concerns," Bennett said.
"James is not the young man he was here a long time ago. Everyone here realises James is not the boy he was when he left this place. He's changed.
"James four years ago might have struggled. Not this James Roberts. Not the James Roberts with two kids and an understanding of where he is in his life. I was just pleased to get him out of that environment."
Roberts took a pay cut to join the Rabbitohs, with the Broncos not chipping in a cent for him to play for another club.
NRL.com understands Roberts was on the outer at the Broncos given an inability to adjust to new coach Anthony Seibold's methods and hard-nosed approach.
Bennett has always maintained that some players needed to be handled differently to the rest of the team, throwing Roberts into that category.
"Coaching is a bit different for some people. If you want a team of choir boys, then you can have that," Bennett said.
"But if you want something a bit different, that's a choice you make. Is James different? Yes, James is different. But it's not different bad and it's not different that it impacts on the team. I've never tried to treat everyone the same.
"I cannot coach what James brings. You have to harness that into the team environment and understand he is different, but it's not detrimental to the team. He never was in the three years he was there with me.
"What I do know is the predicament he found himself in wouldn't have been easy, OK. But he seemed to have handled it well. I made some enquiries after his game last week for Wynnum and they all said he turned up and tried really hard and was really part of the team and they really appreciate how he went about it. That suggests how he handled things."
The Rabbitohs have refuted the notion Roberts was South Sydney-bound, despite several reports linking the 26-year-old with a return to Redfern.
Bennett admits the club needed to distance itself from speculation before it can act on its interest in Roberts.
"It wasn't the right time for us with a lot of speculation around it," he said.
"It put us under pressure, so we just needed time to think who was our best choice and our best options. It's a whole heap of rubbish the talk about me and Richo disagreeing on it. Total rubbish. It didn't happen.
"There was too much noise and we needed some time. There were four or five players out there who wanted to leave their clubs. In the end it came down to James and absolutely we wanted him."
As for talk his body is banged up?
"Banged up?" Bennett laughed.
"He's not banged up."