Bennett waits another week on Roberts

Scott Bailey
South Sydney's James Roberts won't be making his NRL return this weekend against the Warriors

James Roberts will have to wait another week to return to the NRL after South Sydney opted against bringing back the star centre to face the Warriors.

Roberts had been named on an extended bench for Friday night's clash, but coach Wayne Bennett confirmed on Thursday he would not return.

Roberts hasn't played in the NRL since the coronavirus shutdown, when he checked himself into a rehabilitation clinic and emerged just before the competition restarted.

Bennett has remained strong in his position and he will only bring Roberts back when he is fit and ready, preferring to wait the extra time than put him under undue pressure,

"I'm just in a situation where I don't want to risk him right now," Bennett said.

"The team would love to have him back.

"But for him to come back underdone and not play well could mean he would struggle from that point on and open himself up to a lot of criticism.

"But he should be right to play next week."

The situation is complicated further by the fact Bennett is unable to bring Roberts back through reserve grade, with no NSW Cup this year.

Souths have Roberts' former club Penrith next Thursday night, but for this week Alex Johnston will remain on the wing for Souths with Campbell Graham at centre.

Five-eighth Cody Walker will play his 100th NRL game in the Warriors clash, after making his return in last week's win over Gold Coast.

Walker brings up the triple-figure milestone at age 30, after making his NRL debut at 26 after taking a rocky road to first grade.

"It's been a long journey for him to get to 100 games," Bennett said.

"He reminds you of things that make the game great and things that make people.

"His determination and not quitting with so many of the things that happened to him on his journey to get here. I'm really proud of him."

Meanwhile Bennett will have one eye on Walker's opposite number on Friday, having coached Kodi Nikorima in the halves at Brisbane.

Nikorima had his best game in Warriors colours last week, setting up two tries and kicking a field goal in their win over North Queensland.

"I was really pleased for him last week, he was wonderful," Bennett said.

"He's enjoying his football and that's the key for him.

"We all know what he can do, we go back to the 2015 finals series and the impact he had on that. It's just nice to see him back."

STATS THAT MATTER

* Souths have scored 20 or more points in their last 11 games against the Warriors.

* The Warriors have the best completion rate in the NRL at 83.2 per cent.

* Souths are ranked second for first-half points (66), but are 14th for second-half points (26).

Stats: Fox Sports Stats