Roberts puts on brave face for his rematch with Wallabies

Nanjing Night Net

The last time British and Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts was in a team that beat the Wallabies he played 10 minutes and came away with a fractured skull.

Despite the head injury, Roberts remembers the 21-18 victory at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium five years ago with fondness.

”Me and [Wallabies centre Stirling] Mortlock bashed heads, so I got credit for winning us the game by taking the captain out of the game,” he said. ”Since then I haven’t beaten Australia and not a lot of guys in the squad will have beaten Australia, and that’s a huge factor. Hopefully we can come together, be a stronger force as one and beat the Wallabies.”

That process of integration is well under way and steps up a notch on Monday, when the Lions squad flies to Hong Kong for the first leg of their month-long tour.

Roberts, who will graduate from medical school in July, is one of a small group he has dubbed the ”three disciples”, a deferential nickname for himself and the other young centres Jonathan Davies and Manu Tuilagi, who were named alongside veteran centre and former Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll in Warren Gatland’s powerfully built midfield.

The ”disciples” are the physical manifestation of Gatland’s strategy for this three-Test tour. Powerfully built, hard-running backs who will look to run up and over the Wallabies come the first clash in Brisbane on June 22.

But Roberts said there was flexibility to complement the back line’s physicality that would be deployed at will when the game required it.

”Warren has picked very good rugby players, very big athletes and guys who can cross the gain line and play an expansive game but also play a power-based game,” he said.

”I think we have to adapt our game accordingly, it will be interesting to see how we go in the provincial games leading up to the Tests. By choosing that sort of player, it gives us options to … chop and change our game plan accordingly.”

Despite a large number of Lions players coming from the Welsh side Gatland has coached for the past six years, Roberts said the team’s game plan would be ”completely different”.

”I can’t give too much away but it’s a completely different group of players and you have to adapt your game plan according to what sort of players you have in the team,” Roberts said.

The Lions’ past three consecutive series losses will no doubt be a motivating factor for Gatland and every player in the squad. Roberts nominated the Welsh Test team’s poor recent record against the Wallabies and England’s loss at Twickenham on the spring tour last year as extra fuel for players from the four nations.

”Everyone’s motivated to beat Australia; from our part of the world Australia [is] viewed as a country that prides [itself] hugely on [its] sporting background and heritage, it’s a massive part of what you guys do and to beat Australia away from home is a huge goal of everyone in the squad,” he said. ”I played in that [spring tour] game in November when we lost to that last-minute try to Kurtley Beale. It was probably the toughest result to take, [it was] absolutely brutal, losing in that fashion, but that becomes motivation. You learn with each game you lose and you have to use it as motivation to win next time around.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.