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Jamie Roberts targets swansong at hometown club Cardiff Blues

Stormers centre Jamie Roberts

JAMIE Roberts says he wants to end his career by giving back to Welsh rugby with Cardiff Blues and insists Wayne Pivac’s Wales must get the balance right between attack and defence.

Roberts, who won 94 caps for Wales and three for the Lions, began his career with Cardiff Blues playing 87 games. And the globetrotting centre, who now plays for South African side Stormers, would love nothing more than to finish his career where it all began.

“I told myself as soon as I left Cardiff I’d want to play there again before I finish my career,” Roberts told TRP. “I want to give back to Welsh rugby as a player or even after I’ve retired.

“The Blues gave me so much not just as a player, but as a person. They allowed me to play for Wales. I’d love to take them back to where they deserve to be, because they aren’t there.

“They are a capital city side, but they aren’t at the top table at the moment. They are a club who should be. Having been there I’d like to see them there again and help them as a player.

“If the opportunity to do that is there then I’d love to explore that. I’d struggle to play for another Welsh region.”

Wales endured a pretty turbulent first Six Nations campaign under new head coach Wayne Pivac losing three games on the bounce for the first time since 2007.

Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny
Rough start: The beginning of Wayne Pivac’s tenure as Wales head coach didn’t produce results. Michael Steele/Getty Images

Despite playing an attractive brand of rugby, Roberts believes Wales won’t move forward until they get the balance right between playing expansively and pragmatically.

He said: “Wales are trying to play a more expansive game, but I think the most important thing is they can’t become a side that score four great tries but concede five and still lose games. There has to be a balance struck.

“Any rugby player or purist will tell you it’s about the balance of risk in the game and Wales will find that winning formula. There have definitely been promising signs, but there are certainly a lot of improvements to be made defensively.

“We need to make sure we stop conceding so many tries. It’s a typical debate – would you rather win 10-9 or lose 37-35 while playing some attractive rugby?

“Let me tell you now Test match rugby is about winning. I’m sure those players will be enjoying playing a more expansive game, but they will be disappointed not winning Test matches.

“It will be interesting to see how the team develops over the next few years. I’d love to be a part of it, but that’s Mr Pivac’s decision.”

Roberts is 33, but he insists he is more than good enough to still be playing Test rugby having enjoyed a stellar start in Super Rugby before coronavirus put an end to his season.

The 2008 and 2012 Grand Slam winner – whose last international came against New Zealand in 2017 – knows he is up against it and has heaped praise on new Wales centre Nick Tompkins.

He said: “Nick’s first campaign has been pretty impressive. There is no doubt about that.

“He’s quick, has got good footwork, and his attacking ability on the ball is pretty special. His passing game is good and his defence is going to improve as well. You learn pretty quickly when you are getting exposed at that level and playing multiple games on the bounce.

“I say that from experience. I think he’ll only improve and get better.”

STEFFAN THOMAS

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