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Wales' Jamie Roberts aware of the threat of George Ford ahead of England clash

Published 08/03/2016

Centre Jamie Roberts will be part of a juggernaut Wales back division that lines up against England at Twickenham on Saturday
Centre Jamie Roberts will be part of a juggernaut Wales back division that lines up against England at Twickenham on Saturday

Wales have made no secret of the fact that diminutive England fly-half George Ford will be in their juggernaut back division's sights at Twickenham on Saturday.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has indicated that his team intend running down Ford's channel, and centre Jamie Roberts - he stands seven inches taller and four stone heavier than the England number 10 - backed Gatland's theory.

"George Ford is probably playing his best rugby at the moment, certainly in attack," Roberts said.

"He attacks the line flat and creates problems for the opposition. He is someone we have to be wary of this week.

"He is one of the smaller men, there is no doubt about that, and we have got some big backs. So, as Warren said, we won't disappoint in that respect. That's rugby."

Wales will return to English rugby headquarters for what is effectively an RBS 6 Nations title showdown less than six months after posting a World Cup victory that accelerated England's painful pool stage demise.

Since then, Roberts has linked up with his new club Harlequins, meaning he is now team-mates with the likes of England's World Cup captain Chris Robshaw and full-back Mike Brown.

New England head coach Eddie Jones replaced Robshaw as skipper with hooker Dylan Hartley before the Six Nations campaign, while Brown's feisty on-pitch reputation rarely deserts him.

But Roberts is quick to praise both players, with England having regrouped impressively under Jones and won their first three Six Nations games, raising the possibility of achieving a first Grand Slam since 2003.

"Fair play to Chris for the way he has bounced back after a lot of flak he took at the World Cup. If anything, he is playing some of his best rugby," Roberts added.

"That's a credit to the bloke more than the player.

"I joked at his testimonial launch, which he had in London, apologising to the crowd that it wouldn't be as lucrative as it would if they had won the World Cup, which didn't go down too well, actually, in a room full of Englishmen!

"Fair play, Chris got straight on the microphone and said 'Jamie is going to apologise to the charities that are here!'

"Mike is a good lad. I've got to know him in my time at Quins. He's a passionate player, a bit of an angry man, but he's a good lad and a quality player.

"If we don't shut him down, he can create us problems, and he has done in the past.

"They (England) are unbeaten. They have won three from three, and we will be facing a very determined England side on Saturday."

Roberts, though, also knows the quality Wales have at their disposal. Under Gatland, they have beaten England three times at Twickenham and were the last team to topple them there in a Six Nations Test match.

"When I look back over the moments where the stakes have been at their highest - notably 2013 (Wales beat England 30-3 in Cardiff to win the Six Nations) and last year's World Cup, we have delivered as a group," he said.

"We go to Twickenham knowing what it takes to win there, and we have to deliver in 80 minutes.

"If we get it right we win, if we get it wrong we lose. We know what is on the line, and that high pressure environment brings out the best as a side.

"Experience counts a lot in international rugby, but if you don't turn up you are soon found wanting. Full respect to England. From what they went through in the World Cup, they have come back really strong.

"It will take bodies on the line on Saturday, full concentration, because one missed tackle, a penalty or an unforced error could decide the championship.

"It's going to be one of those games you remember for a long time, whether you win or lose. We have to make sure we do everything in our power to get the former."

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