Roberts holding on to Welsh dream
Jamie Roberts has insisted he wants to continue his Wales career despite potentially jeopardising his Test prospects.
Jamie Roberts has insisted he wants to continue his Wales career despite potentially jeopardising his Test prospects by announcing he will be leaving Cardiff Blues for an as yet unnamed foreign club.
The Blues confirmed on Thursday that Roberts would quit the Welsh capital side at the end of the season amidst reports the centre was set to join the growing exodus of Wales players in France - where Gethin Jenkins, Mike Phillips, James Hook and Luke Charteris are now all at Top 14 clubs.
Roberts did not reveal the identity of his new side Thursday but the 26-year-old medical student, in a statement issued by the Welsh Rugby Union, insisted he remained fully committed to Wales.
"I am proud of what I have achieved so far in my rugby playing career and remain determined to continue to aspire to win international honours for Wales," said Roberts.
"This has been an extremely difficult decision, but I am absolutely certain it is the correct time for me to enter a new stage of my career," added the midfielder set to win his 45th Wales cap in Cardiff on Saturday, having returned to action in September after six months out with a knee injury.
"My intention is to emerge from the experience of playing for a new team as a better rugby player and to broaden my personal horizons in a new environment," insisted Roberts, who four years ago helped Wales to a Six Nations Grand Slam - a feat he helped them repeat this year.
"I owe a great deal to Wales and to Welsh rugby and I retain the pride I felt in 2008 when I first pulled on the international jersey for my country of birth.
"As professional players we work immensely hard and there comes a time when you know that a fresh environment will help you retain the sharp edge of determination required to remain a contender for top honours.
"I have enjoyed an incredible time at Cardiff Blues in the company of some great players, coaches, administrators and fans who have helped shape my career."
Roberts, following in the footsteps of Wales great JPR Williams in trying to combine top-class rugby with a career in medicine, added: "I will complete my medical training in March and currently have the opportunity to step outside the academic environment for a couple of years before I take up my required hospital training period."
Earlier, Blues chairman Peter Thomas called on the Welsh Rugby Union to increase funding to clubs in a bid to prevent he growing "player drain".
"It is impossible for the Welsh regions to compete with the kind of money that is on offer from other clubs in other countries," Thomas said.
"If we want to keep Jamie Roberts and other international players in Wales then the governing body has to intervene."
Scrumhalf Phillips, now at Bayonne, was surprisingly dropped from the Wales starting side to face Argentina by interim coach Rob Howley, having missed last week's training camp in Poland because of club commitments.
"It is important for us that we have had good preparation," said Howley.
"The dynamics of the team are important when you spend time together. It's about those marginal gains that you get. When you go to France and England [to play], you take yourself out of that environment."