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Roberts back better than ever

Guinness PRO12 Editor

22 Mar 2011

Casey Laulala believes the Magners League will see the best of centre partner Jamie Roberts as the race towards the Grand Final intensifies.

Roberts featured in all five of Wales’ RBS 6 Nations matches this month and is now set to return to club action in Friday night’s mouthwatering Magners League clash with pace setters Munster at the Cardiff City Stadium.

And while Roberts struggled to get his hands on the ball as Wales failed to find their attacking spark on a consistent basis, Laulala is confident that the Blues will bring out the best in the 24-year-old and vice versa.

"I've watched a couple of games where he hasn't really touched the ball," Laulala told BBC Sport.

"The defensive side of his game has been brilliant. He put that big tackle that turned the ball over to win against Ireland.

"But if you watch some of the centres in the competition, in the game against England Mike Tindall didn't touch the ball more than he did. It's just when Jamie does touch the ball he makes something happen. He's such a great player people expect more of him."

The fact that Roberts was encouraged by Wales coach Warren Gatland to go looking for the ball on the international stage may have been seen as a criticism by some but Laulala believes those remarks will actually benefit both Roberts and the Blues throughout the remainder of the domestic season.

The Blues currently sit in fifth-place in the Magners League standings but are just two points behind Leinster and Ulster in third and fourth having played a game less than their Play-Off rivals.

And with so much still to play for this term Laulala is convinced that Roberts will become a better player by taking on board his national coach’s comments.

"Every campaign there's always something you need to improve on," added Lualala.

"As players you have things you need to work on heading to a different competition. But I see it as a real positive for him because heading to a World Cup he needs to touch the ball more. That's something for Jamie to try and improve.

"It's a real positive thing for Wales that he's got that to work on.

"As a centre you're not really in the game sometimes and you just have to run off the nine and come looking for the ball.

"And I know what he's feeling because I know exactly what it's like when it's a rainy day or a game where the forwards are not playing well.

"They need a bit of a hand and you just need to come off and run short balls off people and looking for work. It's nothing that he can't do."