Ian Roberts (born 31 July 1965) is an Australian former professional rugby league player and actor. Late in his football career he announced he was gay which gained him much attention in Australia and worldwide as a result.

South Sydney career

Roberts was born in London, England. He played as a Souths junior in his early career, as a forward. He battled to overcome a series of injuries to reach his full potential in the Test arena. Despite not having yet played for either New South Wales or Australia, Roberts signed a huge contract with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in 1990.

Rabbitohs Statistics

Year G T Gls FGls Pts
1986-1989 65 5 0 0 20

Manly Warringah career

After moving from the Rabbitohs to Manly he quickly justified his value with State of Origin selection and a Test debut against New Zealand. Roberts finally made a Kangaroo tour, leading the way up front in Australia's Ashes winning 24-3 Third Test victory at Elland Road. Not long after, Roberts signed with Super League despite his club and coach Bob Fulton remaining loyal to the Australian Rugby League.

Sea Eagles Statistics

Year G T Gls FGls Pts
1990-1995 100 5 0 0 20

North Queensland career

In the upheaval in rugby league in the mid 1990s, Roberts signed with the North Queensland Cowboys moving to Townsville to captain the side. His career wound down in 1998 under the increasing weight of injuries.

Cowboys Statistics

Year G T Gls FGls Pts
1997 17 2 0 0 8
1998 12 1 0 0 4
Totals 29 3 0 0 12

Legend: Gms = Games, Trs = Tries, Gls = Goals, FGls = Field Goals, Pts = Points.

State of Origin career

Roberts made 9 appearances for the New South Wales State of Origin team between 1990 and 1994. He was an intimidating enforcer in the NSW forward pack and one of the toughest to grace the Origin stage. An amazingly fit athlete, he famously collapsed from exhaustion after a typically tireless effort in Game I of 1993. The Blues won six of the nine matches in which Roberts played.

In 2005, he was named one of the 25 greatest ever New South Wales players.

Life outside football

Well known in Sydney gay circles for some time, Roberts came out publicly in 1995, discussing his sexuality in magazines and on television over the following year. The rugby league world was generally very supportive, with other players commenting that it was important to be "true to yourself", while The NRL Footy Show principals Paul Vautin, Peter Sterling and Steve Roach appeared in a poster campaign against homophobia conducted by the Lesbian and Gay Anti-Violence Project. he has been praised for helping to question prevailing myths about gays and sport. Paul Freeman's book Ian Roberts - Finding Out was published in 1997 (ISBN 0-09-183336-1).

Roberts finished playing professional football in 1998, and began studying at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney. In 1999 Roberts was taken to court by Garry Jack over an on-field brawl that occurred in 1991. Jack was, in his view, taking a stand against a cowardly, yet devastating beating he received by several Manly players. He attempted to sue Roberts for $100,000 in damages, alleging he suffered shock, traumatic injuries to his face and eyes, cuts, headaches and numbness and was embarrassed by scarring to his face. Jack and Roberts eventually settled the dispute outside the court with Roberts handing over more than $50,000.

In 2000, he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to Australia's international standing in rugby league. Roberts served on the National Rugby League Judiciary in 2001.

Roberts gave evidence to the State Coroner of New South Wales in regard to the murder of Arron Light, a street prostitute who was set to give evidence against a paedophile syndicate. He disappeared in 1997, and his remains were recovered in 2002. This story was the subject of an episode of the Australian TV program Australian Story, entitled "The Lost Boy", which first aired on September 26, 2005.

In 2004 Roberts was named by Souths in their South Sydney Dream Team,[1] consisting of 17 players and a coach representing the club from 1908 through to 2004.

Early in 2005, he appeared in the second series of the Australian television series Dancing With The Stars, dancing with Natalie Lowe. He became the runner up in the competition, losing out to Tom Williams.

On 1 July 2006, Roberts was charged over an incident involving his former partner, Ben Prideaux; the 30-year-old male was alleged to have suffered cuts and bruises on his forearms in the incident. On 25 May 2007, Roberts was cleared of these charges by a court in Sydney.[2]

He also appeared in the 2006 motion picture Superman Returns as Riley, a henchman of Lex Luthor.

Roberts appeared on the 17 April 2007 cover of The Advocate magazine in an exclusive interview with Canadian author and journalist Michael Rowe, along with a photo layout by celebrity photographer Eric Schwabel.


External links

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