Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Roberts desperate to end Big Three pain

By Andrew Baldock

Qualified doctor Jamie Roberts will put himself through physical torture once more today in an attempt to end Wales' prolonged mental anguish against the southern hemisphere superpowers.

Just a week after standing toe-to-toe with world champions New Zealand for almost 70 minutes of an encounter that was underpinned by brutal intensity, Wales now face renowned pain merchants South Africa.

While the All Blacks' all-singing, all-dancing game has elevated them to unprecedented levels of brilliance, South Africa have remained among world rugby's top three nations through frequent reminders that their physical power can be overwhelming.

Twelve of the Wales team that started against New Zealand are back for more today, and powerhouse centre Roberts -hardly a lightweight at 6ft 4in and more than 17 stone - has dusted himself down, ready to go again.

"It has taken about four or five days to recover. It was car-crash stuff at the weekend," he said.

"I take anti-inflammatory medication before most games now just to reduce the swelling in the knees and ankles, and so forth.

"It kind of numbs most things during the game, and when the effect wears off ... usually the day after the game you feel alright, but it's after that. Monday and Tuesday are pretty horrific.

Asked if he worried about his body and any long-term impact, Roberts added: "Sometimes. I have to enjoy the present - that is what it's about. It's tough, but I will be 100 per cent come Saturday. That is all that matters."

Statistics are also hurting Wales at the moment. They have not beaten South Africa, New Zealand or Australia since November 2008 when the Aussies lost 21-18 in Cardiff, and the overall picture under Wales head coach Warren Gatland is a bleak one against the Big Three - played 27, lost 26.

"I think this weekend is all about mindset. The hard work is done, the boys are used to playing at that intensity now and the structures are in place," Roberts said.

"It's about turning up on Saturday. We are all completely gutted about last Saturday, but it's also a bit of a wake-up call to the level that we need to get to."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph