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Roberts admits Blues searching for competitive edge

Guinness PRO12 Editor

30 Oct 2012

His Cardiff Blues future remains uncertain, but Jamie Roberts is convinced it’s only a matter of time before the Welsh province turn the corner.

The 25-year-old centre made an impressive return to action from knee surgery earlier this season, scoring a try in the Blues’ victory over Treviso – what was then a third win from their opening five matches.

Since then however, things have spiralled and heavy RaboDirect PRO12 defeats to Ulster, Glasgow Warriors and Leinster – as well as two opening defeats in the Heineken Cup – have left Roberts and co in troubled waters.

The honeymoon period certainly didn’t last long for Phil Davies, appointed head coach in the summer, while he has struggled to bring the youngsters – who must replace the outgoing Gethin Jenkins and Casey Laulala as well as the retiring Xavier Rush, Paul Tito and Martyn Williams – up to speed.

The core of side – Roberts, Sam Warburton, Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny – remains but most are being chased by cash-rich French clubs.

But Roberts believes Davies’ methods will soon bear fruit, challenging the younger members of the squad to stand up and be counted.

“Things have not been ideal, we’re not exactly where we want to be. But it’s a young group and the guys understand that and that there are a lot of young players coming in,” said Roberts.

“Last year there were a lot of seasoned internationals in our side but I think there’s another level in us.

“I think we will keep learning throughout the season, keep working, keep developing and keep working hard and I think we will see results on the pitch and that’s the most important thing in our sport and so we need to get to winning ways.

“I think it was always going to take time for Phil. He’s very meticulous in his planning and in organising what he does.

“He has put some fantastic structures in place at the Blues which is what we needed for a couple of seasons.

“He’s got a great work ethos for the group and to reap the rewards of that system and that environment was always going to take some time.

“There are a lot of players who have been around for a while, including myself, but there are a lot who are in their first or second season.

“These guys now need to step up to the plate and reap the rewards of the environment that they are now training in.

“They need to push everyone else for first-team places and once we get that competitive edge within our squad it’s going to bring out the best in everyone else.”

Roberts meanwhile, remains unsure where he will be playing his club rugby next season, but he is adamant money will not be the decisive factor.

“It’s a massive year for me,” said Roberts, who will finish his medicine degree in the spring.

“I’ve got my finals in March and I’m in the last year of my contract as well.

“I just need to make the right decision for me and go with my gut feeling in terms of what’s right for me at this point in my life.

“I’m undecided as of yet but hopefully in the next couple of weeks it will be resolved and I’ll be able to focus all of my efforts on playing well for the Blues and hopefully Wales as well.

“I think as players you need to assess where you are at the end of your contract, see what’s on offer and choose what is right for you – lifestyle, family – a million and one factors come into it.”