Rugby World Cup 2019: England loss can benefit Wales, says Jamie Roberts

Wales face Georgia in their Rugby World Cup opening match on 23 September followed by pool games against Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.
Wales face Georgia in their Rugby World Cup opening match on 23 September followed by pool games against Australia, Fiji and Uruguay
World Cup warm-up: Wales v England
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 17 August Kick-off: 14:15 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC 5 Live Extra & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

British and Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts believes Wales' opening World Cup warm-up defeat against England can galvanise Warren Gatland's side.

Wales' 14-match unbeaten run plus their hopes of being ranked world number one came to an end with a 33-19 defeat at Twickenham.

The two sides meet again on 17 August in Cardiff ahead of the start of the World Cup in Japan in September.

"In retrospect it might be a good thing for Wales," said Roberts.

"After the success of the last 12 to 18 months, to taste defeat I hope it will benefit the Welsh lads.

"The lads will be gutted with the result coming off the back of the run they have been on.

"But if you taste defeat it makes you hungrier and they have a chance to put that right on Saturday.

"Hosting England in Cardiff, a sell-out match, provides all the incentive."

Jamie Roberts in Wales training with Dan Biggar
Jamie Roberts in Wales training with Dan Biggar. Roberts' last Test appearance was against New Zealand in November 2017 when he won his 94th Wales cap.

Bath centre Roberts, 32, has played down the importance of Wales' first loss in 18 months.

"We should not read much into it," added Roberts.

"These warm-up games are to get the wheels rolling on a project that they will hope culminates in the World Cup final.

"All the fitness training and skill work is about translating onto a rugby field under pressure.

"The reason you do all the fitness work is to perform in the game and there is no substitute for match practice.

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Don't read too much into defeat - Wales boss Gatland

"Gats would want to see an increase in levels of performance over the next three games leading into the World Cup.

"It is about being on the upward curve. Ultimately you can learn more losing those warm-up games than winning them."

Replacing Anscombe

The major blow at Twickenham was the World Cup loss of first-choice fly-half Gareth Anscombe, who will miss the tournament because to a serious knee injury.

"It's brutal for Gareth," said Roberts.

"For him to become injured just before a World Cup after what he has produced for Wales in that winning streak over the last 18 months is a massive blow for him and the side."

Jarrod Evans and Rhys Patchell are the contenders to replace Anscombe alongside expected first-choice Dan Biggar when the final 31-man World Cup squad is announced at the beginning of September.

Roberts believes it could be a straight shootout between Evans and Patchell to travel to Japan alongside Biggar.

Gareth Anscombe holds his knee in pain at Twickenham
Gareth Anscombe has played 27 Tests for Wales

"They are relativity inexperienced at Test level but one of those lads has to put their hand up over the next few weeks," said Roberts.

"It would not surprise me to see one of them starting at the weekend against England just to see them deal with the pressure and intensity of a Test match.

"We know what Dan can do and he has been superb in the last year in a different role off the bench and played an integral part in Wales' success.

"I am excited to see what Jarrod and Rhys can bring. Those boys will be raring to go and could have a hugely important part to play over the next few months."

After the Cardiff match on Saturday, Wales have a training camp in Turkey. They then play another double-header, against Ireland, in Cardiff on 31 August and 7 September in Dublin, before flying out to Japan.

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