The role of a father during labour and the expectations of a partner are being hotly debated on social media after Brisbane Broncos star player James Roberts risked missing the birth of his first child, in order to instead play with his team.
The baby – the first for the 23-year-old and his partner, Anna Jovanovic – finally arrived on Sunday, but Jovanovic’s waters broke Friday leaving Roberts with the decision whether to stay by his partner’s side, or travel to Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium to play against the Rabbitohs.
James Roberts and wife, Anna with baby Kirk. Via Facebook.
Roberts admitted in a video release that his wife was against the decision.
“She was begging me to stay and not go but I just wanted to come up and do a job for the boys,” he said.
“I am sure Wayne [coach Wayne Bennett] did (want me to play) but he didn’t say much, I think he was just avoiding calls from Anna. I thought it was close — the water broke the day before, but it dragged on a bit. We ended having it on Sunday morning at four o’clock.
When the couple’s baby, named Kirk, finally arrived the game was well and truly over (the Broncos beating the Rabbitohs 30- 8) and Roberts was by his wife's side.
He said : “I am glad it is all over and it's pretty enjoyable going home to my little boy."
But despite the fact Roberts didn’t actually miss the birth of his son social media users were horrified at the thought Jovanovic, in Roberts’s own words “begged him to stay” and yet he went anyway.
One woman wrote: "Your wife is begging you but no can't let the boys down, don't worry about your wife and child! When football is over who is there at the end, yeah not the boys!!"
Another: “To put the birth of your child second too your job is abit unfair, any other dad to be that works has the same decisions to make and 99.9% of them are right beside their wife! Footballer or not!!”
And they went on “his wife will remember she took 2nd place not a nice feeling. ...get your priorities right mate."
“Like so many putting themselves ahead of their kids. Has his priorities all wrong."
James Roberts and wife Anna Jovanovic Via Facebook.
But others defended him.
“Did he miss the birth? No. She was in hospital being cared for by doctors plus he was there for the birth. Its not like he left her on the side of the road and told her to make her own way there.”
Another said: “What's so bad about doing his job? He is trying to provide for them”
And “He was there for the birth. He put his team ahead of himself, and in that sense he was selfless.”
James Roberts played in Friday's game. Via Getty.
He’s not the first footballer to invite controversy over the issue.