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O'Driscoll hails maturing Roberts

Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll believes Wales centre Jamie Roberts has developed into a more rounded player.

The Lions midfield partnership of 2009 will cross swords in Saturday's potentially thrilling World Cup quarter-final at Wellington Regional Stadium.

"Most of the Welsh squad are in good form. Jamie Roberts has done well, mixing his game up well. He'll be a handful, but that's nothing new," he said.

"Jamie carries extremely hard, but he's also brought in some nice subtleties. He's not afraid to mix it up and that's made him difficult to read.

"He's evolved on that front, but one aspect of his game that hasn't changed is his ability to break the gainline. Teams play off go-forward ball and he's one of their go-to guys for that."

Ireland enter Saturday's showdown as marginal favourites to reach the semi-finals for the first time, and one of the key ingredients behind their unbeaten march through the World Cup has been their rampaging back row of Sean O'Brien, Stephen Ferris and Jamie Heaslip.

"They've been going very well. On their day they're a world-class trio and have been putting in some good performances," added O'Driscoll.

"But they know they have some improvements to make in their game as well.

"It's always nice getting plaudits from people outside the camp but at the same time I don't think it will affect their mindset.

"They're really enjoying along with everyone else the challenges that have been thrown at us and will want to produce it again. They won't let the chat about them affect their performances in any way."


From Belfast Telegraph