Jamie Roberts believes he still has a future at Test level and is hell-bent on proving his worth to new Wales coach Wayne Pivac ahead of the Six Nations.
Marooned on 94 caps since making his last Red Dragons appearance against New Zealand in November 2017, Roberts’ hopes appeared dead under previous boss Warren Gatland.
However, with Pivac now at the helm and facing midfield problems with Jonathan Davies, Willis Halaholo and Owen Watkin all crocked, Roberts feels he would be worthy of a recall – if he can spearhead a festive season revival at Bath.
Roberts said: “There’s no doubt I can still compete at Test level and I want to chuck my hat in the ring for that. The only way I can do that is by performing for my club and that’s what I aim to do.
“It’s all very well and good me saying it, but I need to deliver on the pitch and that’s something I’m totally focussed on. If an opportunity comes from that, I’ll jump at it.”
Having turned 33 last month, Roberts is in the twilight of a career that started at Cardiff in 2005 and has encompassed spells at Racing 92, Harlequins and Bath, as well as featuring in two World Cups for Wales and on two tours with the Lions.
His current two-year deal at Bath ends this summer, but Roberts added: “I’ll start having conversations in the next month or so to see where my future lies. I’m not too sure what will happen but I’d like to think I’ll be playing for another couple of years.
“It’s Bath’s decision whether I stay here or not but I still feel good. I feel fit, I can compete at this level and I still feel fit enough to play at Test level.
“I actually feel like I’m 25 and when I don’t feel that way, I’ll start thinking about calling it a day, but I’m enjoying my rugby and I’m fit and firing.”
With Bath’s Champions Cup hopes over after four bitterly disappointing Pool losses, their fans now want to see the best of Roberts as an injury-hit side concentrate solely on the Premiership.
Under-fire rugby director Stuart Hooper is feeling the heat in his first season in the job and Roberts accepts that, as a senior player, he must step up.
Roberts said: “Stuart will be the first to admit it’s been tough. It’s all rosy when you’re winning and people are patting you on the back, but the knives soon come out when you lose.
“As a senior player, I’m always there to support Stuart and help him create an environment where this club can get back to winning ways. He’s a good rugby man so we’re all in this together and we’re an ambitious group that wants to win games.
“We haven’t been good enough in Europe, that’s the black and white of it. We lost to Ulster, Harlequins and back-to-back to Clermont, but in the Premiership we’ve beaten Northampton and Exeter, two of the top teams in the league.
“Every team has injuries so I’m not one to offer excuses there. You’ve got to deal with it and we’ve got three big games coming up against London Irish, Sale and Gloucester over the festive period and it’s about us fronting up and delivering.”
A by-product of injuries to key back-line men like Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson and Semesa Rokduguni has been the emergence of 19-year-old winger Gabe Hamer-Webb and centre Max Wright, 22, who has impressed over the last 12 months.
Roberts added: “Young players have stepped up well and Gabe’s the perfect example. There’s a guy who wouldn’t have dreamed of playing Heineken Cup or Premiership rugby at the start of the season but was thrown in the deep end and swum.
“Max has gone well, too, and his growth over the last year has been impressive. When I first met him he was quite a shy lad who didn’t have much to say for himself, but now he’s an established member of our back-line and a very good leader.
“His kick, pass, run decision-making is good. He passes the ball very well and he’s exceptionally strong and quick, so he’s on an upward curve. There are lots of other guys like Max and Gabe and we just want to keep progressing now.”
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