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Jamie Roberts eager to improve all-round game with Harlequins

Jamie Roberts makes his Harlequins debut on Saturday with the intent of "attacking" the final third of his career.

Roberts has been picked at inside centre for the Challenge Cup clash with Calvisano at Twickenham Stoop after recovering from the dead leg sustained for Cambridge University in last week's Varsity match.

Refreshed by a two-month break after the World Cup during which he began studying a part‑time Masters degree (MPhil) in medical science (surgery), the 29-year-old is hoping to realise his ambitions leading up to Japan 2019.

"It was good to step away for a couple of months and I'm really glad I did," said Roberts, who will make his Aviva Premiership debut against Gloucester at Twickenham on December 27.

"The four of five months building up to the World Cup were intense, but now I'm refreshed, feel great and am hungrier than ever to achieve. That's a good sign.

"It's important to take a break mentally. I'm probably two thirds into my career now - or maybe a half! - and I've thought 'right, I'm really going to attack this period'.

"Certainly my ambition starts with Harlequins and I want to win silverware here. Beyond that it's about the Lions tour and next World Cup.

"I want to improve my all round game and that's what appeals about playing for Quins - they play with ball in hand. I want to test my skills here and improve certain facets of my game.

"The philosophy here is to play with width and tempo and hopefully that will bring the best out of me as a player.

"Week on week, I want to make sure my body is right because mentally I know I'm raring to go. It's making sure my body is 100%."

Roberts, a veteran of 74 caps for Wales and three for the British and Irish Lions, arrived at Quins after completing a two-year spell at French club Racing Metro.

"The French way of life and way of doing things is different. I'm not saying it was good or bad, but you have to adapt as quickly as possible," he said.

"There's language barrier which is hard because from day one you're expected to know French.

"Everything is delivered in French and that's a huge challenge that I probably under-estimated at the time.

"Socially, trying to develop relationships with people can be difficult if you don't know the language.

"The rugby was great. One week you could be a playing a game that felt like sevens, the next it would be like rugby league. There are some big players in that league!

"It's a chapter of my life that I'm really glad I did and that I'll learn a lot from."

Sale are the only other Premiership club in Challenge Cup action on Saturday, hosting Castres at AJ Bell Stadium.


From Belfast Telegraph