Roberts hails ‘special’ success

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Published: Sunday 1st March 2015 by The News Editor

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Jamie Roberts has hailed the “very special” achievement of beating France four times in succession after defiant Wales continued to revive RBS 6 Nations title hopes that appeared a lost cause just three weeks ago.

Wales’ second-half capitulation against England left them on the ropes, but they have come out fighting with back-to-back victories over Scotland and France.

Not since the mid-1950s have Wales enjoyed such a winning run at Les Bleus’ expense.

And while they are now sweating on the fitness of skipper Sam Warburton, who went off at Stade de France after taking a blow to his knee just a fortnight before reigning Six Nations champions Ireland arrive in Cardiff, Wales’ collective recovery process continues.

“It’s difficult to win pretty here, and sometimes you have to do it the difficult way,” Racing Metro centre Roberts said, following a 20-13 triumph that saw him play a starring role.

“We always seem to want to do it the hard way. We started poorly against England and improved against Scotland, and we will certainly have to improve again to beat Ireland.

“It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but it’s a very special thing to beat France four times in a row.

“Our desire was huge. No-one wanted to miss a tackle at the end to concede a try, and we all put our bodies on the line.

“The scrum and lineout were superb, and that is the basis of the game. It is where it is won and lost, and the forwards really performed.”

Roberts, meanwhile, has said he will “probably” reveal shortly where his club playing future lies.

The 67 times-capped midfield powerhouse has been a subject of intense speculation that he could leave Paris-based Racing this summer despite having one season left on a three-year deal.

At least one Aviva Premiership club are thought to be monitoring developments, while there is also the possibility of Roberts joining players like Warburton, Dan Lydiate and Samson Lee in agreeing a Welsh Rugby Union dual contract.

“There has been a lot of stuff in the press, and I will probably make an announcement in the next few weeks,” he added.

“I don’t know what exactly is going on. I will let you know as soon as I do.

“When you are playing in France, the critics can be quite hard sometimes, but you have to put in the performances on the field and do your talking on the field. From numbers one to 23 we did that on Saturday.”

Wales headed home from Paris hoping for positive news on Warburton, who was limping heavily immediately after the game and then returned to the team hotel for intensive ice treatment.

Warburton will break Ryan Jones’ Welsh record of 33 Tests as captain if he lines up against Ireland, but it looks like being a patient waiting game for him during the next few days while his prospects are rigorously assessed.

Looking ahead to the Ireland challenge, Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: “They are very clinical at what they do.

“They don’t make a lot of mistakes, their set-piece is good, their driven lineout is good, they kick for the corners, they compete well in the air and we have got to be sure that we are able to cope with that.

“We got dragged into that sort of game against England, particularly in the second-half, where they just drove everything and slowed the game down, and unfortunately we didn’t handle that. We stopped playing rugby.

“We were much better against Scotland, and against France we went out and tried to move the ball.

“The message for us is to match or try and beat Ireland physically up-front and to make sure we impose ourselves and play some rugby. If we are able to do that, then maybe we can come away with the victory.

“We have always said that we get better as a team with time together.

“From the second-half against England, there was a step up against Scotland, then a step up against France.

“There is now a massive game for us at home against Ireland, and potentially we are still in the championship with all to play for on that last weekend (against Italy).”

Published: Sunday 1st March 2015 by The News Editor

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