Jamie Roberts: “I feel fitter than I’ve ever been.”

Jamie Roberts was in a reflective mood following Wales’s 19-9 win over England at the Millennium Stadium, a match that saw the visitors dominate possession and territory. ‘We were delighted to win, first and foremost. It was a strange game. Anyone who put a bet on the match stats alone would have done so for an England victory, but rugby is not purely down to the stats. We were really pleased with our defence and commitment over the eighty minutes.”

The 24-year-old further expanded upon the importance of the victory for morale. ‘The squad has been in a brilliant mood. We have trained very hard all summer, and were disappointed to lose the week before, so it has definitely been a confidence boost.’ Roberts believes that Wales’s summer training camp in Poland has put him in good stead. ‘I’ve felt fitter than I’ve ever been. The camp was tough, mentally and physically. We were in a very isolated area and it was very rugby orientated, with not a lot of time to switch-off. But now a lot of the boys’ are feeling in pretty good nick, and I believe its now showing on the pitch.

With Matthew Rees out of the World Cup with a neck injury, the Cardiff Blues player would appear to be alongside a few other notable names, to be a candidate for taking over the Welsh captaincy. ‘Obviously it is a huge honour to captain your country, and I’m no different. But it is up to the coach, and something that is very much out of my hands. But like all the players I’m gutted for Matthew (Rees).’

Like many of the current Welsh setup Roberts has yet to experience a World Cup, but the centre does not appear likely to be fazed by rugby’s biggest stage, should an almost certain place in the 30 man squad, come his way. ‘I toured with the Lions in 2009 and that has been my biggest rugby experience. Playing in a World Cup in New Zealand will be a big rugby challenge, but it is all about living with the pressure and keeping our emotions under control.’

Roberts will again come face to face with the South African side he faced as a Lion in 2009, in a formidably brutal test series. Roberts has read little into the Boks’ poor Tri Nations form, so far this year. ‘It has been to comment on South Africa with their injuries. But they can never be underestimated. They have a lot of influential players’ who know how to win.’ The World Cup draw has not been kind to Wales. Along with the Springboks, Wales have to face both their cup bogey teams, in Fiji and Samoa. The Cardiff product is not underestimating the threat posed by the Pacific Islanders’. ‘They are full of flair, pace and power. There is quality running through the group. It’s definitely one of the toughest in the tournament.’

This Saturday against Argentina sees Roberts’ shift back to his more regular inside centre position, having moved to outside centre to accommodate the short lived return of Gavin Henson. Switching between the number twelve and thirteen Welsh jersey’s has become a familiar move for the Thirty-two times
capped international. A move he is more than comfortable with. ‘The two centre positions are mostly interchangeable and you tend to find yourself in both channels anyway. Defensively the roles are more different. I enjoy defending at twelve more.’

Saturday at the Millennium Stadium also pits Roberts, a part-time medical student, against Argentine outside-half Felipe Contemponi, a qualified doctor. The Pumas’ outside half is somebody who Roberts clearly has a lot of admiration for. ‘He is someone I have looked up to; he’s really set the benchmark. It’s no mean feat to achieve, especially while playing a very high level of rugby, over a number of years.’

With Wales’s opening game against the Springbok’s in Wellington barely three weeks away, it would be tempting to dismiss the importance of their final warm-up match, but Roberts’ was keen to stress that the significance of the fixture. ‘We want to build on the performances of the last two weeks, and get a lot more ball in hand. While everything will go into South Africa, you can never look past your next game.’

by Paul French

Jamie Roberts is an Under Ambassador. Get behind Wales and buy the cutting edge, new Wales Rugby World Cup shirt www.underarmour.co.uk

One thought on “Jamie Roberts: “I feel fitter than I’ve ever been.”

  1. I certainly agree on the fitness front based on the last 20 minutes of both England mattches.Good to see Jamie and all the rest putting in the hard work how times have changed from the “fatboy Wales” mud slinging of the late 90’s.

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