Jamie Roberts: Wales centre aims for 2019 World Cup place

Jamie Roberts
Jamie Roberts celebrates his last Wales try against Ireland in the 2017 Six Nations
2018 Six Nations: Wales v Scotland
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: 3 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC TV, Red Button, Connected TVs, BBC Sport website and mobile app. Listen on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra, BBC Sport website and app. Live text coverage on BBC Sport website and app.

Jamie Roberts will be a Six Nations spectator for the first time in 10 years when Wales kick-off their campaign against Scotland in Cardiff on Saturday, 3 February.

But after being left out of a Wales squad having made a record-equalling 45 consecutive appearances in the tournament, the Harlequins centre insists he is not yet ready to hang up his Test boots.

"It is disappointing not to be involved and hopefully I will get another chance," said the 31-year-old, a two-time British and Irish Lions tourist.

"A lot can happen on the Test scene, it's up to me to fight to earn my place back.

"I will work hard to achieve my goal of playing in the 2019 World Cup.

"I feel I am still good enough and have a lot to contribute to this Welsh side."

Things to work on

Jamie Roberts and Owen Williams
Owen Williams (R) started twice in the Wales 12 jersey during the 2017 autumn internationals series

Roberts captained Wales on their 2017 summer tour against Tonga and Samoa while the British and Lions tour of New Zealand was going on.

He was initially left out of Warren Gatland's autumn squad before being called up and making an appearance off the bench against New Zealand.

Wales are attempting to expand their game plan, with Gloucester play-maker Owen Williams handed the inside centre role in the autumn.

However, the starting midfield for the Six Nations are hard-running Scarlets duo Hadleigh Parkes and Scott Williams.

So Roberts is not ready to hang up his Test boots and has no thoughts of impending retirement.

"I felt my form for Quins was good and probably the most rugby I have strung together for a while," said Roberts.

"If that is not deemed worthy of a place in the squad you can't beat yourself up. The only way is go back and assess and get feedback from the coaches.

"I had a good chat with [Wales backs coach] Rob Howley to talk about areas in my game I can improve.

"I have known the coaches a long time and they have been honest with me. You have to respect that.

"I will go back to Quins, keep battling away and put in good performances."

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Wales coach Gatland keeps door ajar for duo

Level with Sir Gareth

It has been almost a decade since a Wales squad for a Six Nations match did not contain Roberts' name.

March 15, 2008, to be precise, the 29-12 Grand Slam victory over France when Roberts last watched Wales during the tournament.

Nine full tournaments and 45 consecutive Six Nations matches later, Roberts finds himself watching the 2018 squad from the outside.

"It is a pretty cool stat and I am gutted it's coming to an end," said Roberts.

"The Six Nations is a magnificent tournament and that run of games is something to be very proud of.

"It has been a huge privilege to be involved and I have some great memories."

Sir Gareth Edwards dives over the try-line as Wale beat Scotland 22-14 in the 1978 Five Nations in Cardiff
Sir Gareth Edwards dives over the try-line as Wale beat Scotland 22-14 in the 1978 Five Nations in Cardiff

Irish prop John Hayes holds the tournament record with 54 successive appearances.

Roberts equalled the Welsh record of consecutive tournament matches held by the legendary Sir Gareth Edwards, who made 45 starts from 1967 to 1978, albeit in the current format's Five Nations predecessor to Italy joining in 2000.

"Sir Gareth is not a bad guy to emulate!" said Roberts.

"You have to remember he would have played more games because his career lasted 11 years and he would have only played four games in each tournament. So that is more impressive."

'Passionate supporter'

Roberts remains unsure on what he will feel on Saturday when he is watching.

"It will be a strange experience with mixed emotions," he said.

"I will be a passionate supporter like anyone. Warren has picked an exciting side and they have a great chance in this tournament despite the much publicised injuries.

"Watching the game on the television or at the ground motivates you to want to be involved again."

Roberts has won 94 caps for Wales with three Tests for the Lions and 100 caps is looming.

"That is a milestone, but if I get there I would like to think I have got there on merit," said Roberts.

"I know Warren and he doesn't pick on sentiment and he will pick the team that is the best to win a game for Wales."

Where next?

James Haskell
Wasps flanker James Haskell was sent off after he caught Jamie Roberts with a late shoulder charge in a Champions Cup game in January 2018

Roberts has yet to decide his long-term future with his current Harlequins contract up at the end of the season.

The Wales centre insists international ambitions will be at the heart of his decision.

"My international ambitions will play a part in any final decision," said Roberts.

"I still feel as if I have a lot to contribute at Test level. Until I don't feel that I can contribute or I am told that I can't, I will still harbour international ambitions.

"I feel I have got what it takes and I have been told the door is not closed.

"While those two things are going on, I will try and play for Wales. I don't want to have any regrets.

"I will be looking at all opportunities and nothing has been sorted yet.

"I mentioned Japan was an one option in one interview and it was turned into a headline. Returning to Wales is definitely an option.

"There are pros and cons in every decision in life. I have to weigh up what matters most."

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