Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Roberts ready to hit the right note

Jamie Roberts has recovered from a hamstring problem

Jamie Roberts will reclaim centre stage for rugby reasons on Saturday - a week after playing live with his rock star heroes The Manic Street Preachers.

Wales powerhouse Roberts returns to the Lions midfield following his recovery from a hamstring injury he initially thought might mean an early flight home. Roberts partners his regular Wales centre colleague Jonathan Davies for Saturday's Test series decider against Australia, with Ireland talisman Brian O'Driscoll a shock absentee.

Roberts, who was not fit for the second Test in Melbourne, joined the Manics on stage at Melbourne Festival Hall, playing guitar alongside James Dean Bradfield and company as they performed their hit single "You Love Us". "That was a good experience," recalled Roberts. "I adored the Manics growing up."

He added: "I am that sort of guy in life who takes every opportunity that comes their way. That was thrown in front of me, and I couldn't say no."

He is now, though, concentrated on the biggest match of his career as the Lions bid for a first Test series triumph since they toppled South Africa 16 years ago.

"Bar maybe a World Cup final, I doubt there is a bigger game in rugby for us boys," the 53 times-capped Wales star added.

"You just have to get completely excited about it, not shy away from it, not get nervous. It's just pure excitement, go out and express yourself, keep your concentration and deliver under pressure.

"I see it as a responsibility. I've been picked to do a job and it is important I deliver. I've always thought that I thrive under pressure in big games, it's where I like to play.

"The higher the pressure, the more responsibility is put on me, the more I thrive and the more I enjoy it. I am on my second (Lions) tour now, and I think any player who is on their second or third tour who has played quite a bit of international rugby, you have to take responsibility. That is something I enjoy and thrive on.

"I see myself as one of those guys who has to lead the way. It will be big mind games on Saturday, a huge mental challenge as well as a physical one. It is about staying completely focussed."

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