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Halfpenny and Webb injuries hurt us all, says Wales centre Jamie Roberts

Published 12/09/2015

Wales star Jamie Roberts has sympathised with Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb following their World Cup injury agony
Wales star Jamie Roberts has sympathised with Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb following their World Cup injury agony

Jamie Roberts has underlined the deep sense of collective pain felt by Wales' World Cup squad after Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb suffered tournament-ending injuries.

Wales centre Roberts says that full-back Halfpenny faces six months out of the game following the knee injury sustained during last Saturday's final World Cup warm-up Test against Italy.

Scrum-half Webb, meanwhile, was hurt earlier in the same match, suffering a serious foot injury that also looks set to sideline him until next year.

Wales are barely a week away from their World Cup opener against Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium, and they must now move on, putting to one side the loss of two hugely-influential performers.

"It is hard to see your best mates injured badly," 70 times-capped Roberts said.

"Watching that game last Saturday was horrible. To fall at the final hurdle is the cruellest thing imaginable. It is difficult, but we are a close-knit bunch and the core of the squad has been together for a while.

"Warren (Wales head coach Warren Gatland) has bred strength in depth to generate competition for places and drive everyone to become better players and better people, and he knows there is quality to come in.

"I was chatting to Leigh, who is out for six months, saying how he has to put a positive spin on his injury, as bad and brutal as it is.

"He will have six months out and come back desperately hungry to play rugby again. Putting a positive spin on it, long term it will do him the world of good having time out of the game.

"It is always a difficult conversation to have with a player, but he is old and mature enough to know it is part of the game. He has been walking around with a smile on his face and he just wants the best for the lads."

Roberts' powerful midfield presence will be essential to Welsh hopes of emerging from a punishing World Cup pool that also contains host nation England, twice world champions Australia and ever-dangerous Fiji.

And the two-time British and Irish Lions tourist is relishing the prospect of once again testing himself on rugby union's biggest stage.

"I am in the right frame of mind, and physically, I feel really good," he added.

"We have had a tough 10 weeks to prepare for this, and I use the analogy of an exam.

"If you work hard for an exam, you are in a much better place. If you have not done enough, you are worried.

"I have done the preparation physically and mentally, and I can completely focus on the rugby. I am happy and relaxed. I have done my homework, and I am ready to go.

"The World Cup is different to other tournaments because it is every four years and you have a huge preparation period, something that is synonymous with a revision period.

"It is a nice comparison, and I feel comfortable having done all the hard work. Yes, it was hell at the time, but I feel happy going into a World Cup at my peak physically, and relaxed mentally."

Wales were semi-finalists in New Zealand four years ago - their best World Cup performance since 1987 - but England and Australia loom large this time around as huge barriers to knockout phase progression.

"We know that if we get it right four times for 80 minutes, we will get through to the quarter-finals," Roberts said.

"The physical stuff is done now, and it is about getting minds right, getting the game plan right and ironing out the errors of last weekend, taking confidence into the first game against Uruguay and making sure that mentally every minute counts in the four pool games and all 31 lads are switched on all the time."

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