Roberts ready for 'Test of Tests'

Mon, 11 Mar 2013 06:43
Large jamie roberts wales thumbs Large wales v scotland Large jonathan davies   jamie rob Large richard hibbard and paul ja

Wales' Jamie Roberts is well aware of what's at stake when they face Grand Slam-chasing England in a Six Nations title decider.

Wales' Jamie Roberts is well aware of what's at stake when they face Grand Slam-chasing England in a Six Nations title decider in Cardiff on Saturday, billing it "the Test match of all Test matches".

Roberts, Welsh rugby's most famous medical student since legendary fullback JPR Williams was swotting up in between brilliant displays in the 1970s, is due to sit two more exams this week in his ongoing quest to qualify as a doctor.

The Cardiff centre, who featured in Wales's 28-18 win over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday that kept the second-placed reigning champions in title contention, will be confronted by one paper on Monday and another on Thursday.

However, the British and Irish Lion is adamant he will be focused on the task at hand come Saturday's kick-off at the Millennium Stadium, where a win by eight points or more would assure Wales of a successful title defence and end England's bid for a first Grand Slam since their World Cup-winning year of 2003.

"It's a busy week," Roberts said. "But my focus is as soon as training finishes it switches, then when I arrive at The Vale [Wales' training base] it switches again.

"It's been the same for the last seven or eight years, and it is no different this week.

"I wouldn't want it any other way, really. I've always said since I left school that it was something I wanted to do."

England have never travelled to Cardiff looking to secure a Grand Slam although Wales denied them a clean sweep at Wembley in 1999 when the old National Stadium was being transformed into the Millennium Stadium.

In the years leading up to their World Cup triumph, England several times fell at the final Six Nations hurdle and Roberts was relishing the prospect of inflicting more Grand Slam pain on Wales's fiercest rivals.

"It's fantastic isn't it," Roberts said. "That is the challenge for us, but it is not spoiling it for them, it's about beating England at home. It's the ultimate game.

"Defensively we have been very solid and it is a great run of results we are on. We've got the victories, we've dug in deep. It hasn't been the prettiest but that is what rugby away from home is all about.

"First and foremost it is about Wales winning the game next week. We are the home team and whatever England did against Italy [scrape an 18-11 win at Twickenham on Sunday] was out of our hands.

"We can only focus on what we can focus on, and that's training well and preparing well for a Test match which is the Test match of all Test matches.

"We are playing England at home and from the players to everyone in the country will be bouncing next weekend."

Since their first round loss to Ireland, Wales have gone three matches without conceding a try and have won their last five away Six Nations fixtures.

By contrast, however, Wales have lost their last five matches at the Millennium Stadium, with Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand, Australia and Ireland all triumphing in Cardiff.

"Our last three results have been based on a solid defence," Roberts said. "The three games have been defensive games when conditions dictated.

"We've defended very well. To not concede a try in the last three games is pretty pleasing, but we will be facing a different animal next weekend.

"As a backline you want to be able to show what you can do and maybe over the last three games we haven't had a chance to do that.

"Hopefully, next weekend, we can display that. As I say, we've gone up to Edinburgh and won and everyone is really happy, but we know next Saturday goes up another level.

"Across the park, it is a magnificent Test match. England coming for a Grand Slam in Cardiff is the stuff we dream of playing in as Welsh players."


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