Roberts predicts typically fiesty affair
August 5, 2011
Wales centre Jamie Roberts is bracing himself for another titanic tussle with bitter rivals England © Getty Images
Wales centre Jamie Roberts insists that there will be nothing 'friendly' about Saturday's clash with England at Twickenham, claiming that the great rivalry between the two countries will ensure that the game will be as full-blooded as any of their previous meetings.
With the World Cup looming, there is a feeling that while certain players on both sides will be doing their utmost to catch the eye of their respective coaches, some of the more established performers will be mainly concentrating on improving their match fitness and that their principal goal will be to come through the game unscathed. Consequently, it has been described in some quarters as nothing more than a friendly, a warm-up game, a glorified trial match.
That is simply not the case, according to Roberts, who is expecting both sets of players to play the game as if it were a Six Nations Championship decider.
"There will certainly be no love lost," the Cardiff Blues ace said. "There is no such thing as a trial England versus Wales game. Twickenham is sold out and boys are playing for World Cup places with the chance to realise dreams. It's also a capped international, and no player will disrespect that at all.
"We couldn't have asked for tougher opposition than England to help prepare for a World Cup."
Veteran winger Shane Williams added further weight to his team-mates' argument by revealing that Wales have prepared for the game at Twickenham like never before.
"It has been one of the toughest couple of weeks I've had to face as a rugby player," he said. "The first week [at Wales' training camp in Spala] for me was horrendous. It was really tough.
"Any training you were doing was always tested, always recorded so you could see where you are in comparison with other guys. The second week we acclimatised a lit bit more, [getting] a little bit fitter.
"But you can be as fit as you like really. It's all about doing it on the field as well. The boys are in a good place at the moment physically. They're looking strong in the gym. Mentally now is the big one and it all starts on Saturday against a very good English squad."
Williams also rubbished the notion that some of the more senior members of the Welsh squad might be tempted to merely go through the motions on Saturday in order to avoid an injury which might jeopardise their seat on the flight to New Zealand.
"The competition for places at the moment is fierce. You can't go into these games half-heartedly," he said. "One, you're going to get injured and two, someone else may take your position and certainly people will be thinking about that.
"World Cup warm-ups [are] all about seeing where you are individually as players and as a team collectively. These are exciting times. There are two massive games coming up against England and physically [we're] going to see where we are as a side. We need to go out there now and perform to the best of our ability.
"[We've] got a strong squad here at the moment and everyone's putting their hands up in training to be selected. You've got to go one hundred percent in these games, give it your all and hopefully come out the other side smiling.
"It's going to be very difficult for us to get a result up there but we've just got to go out and basically throw everything at England. They're in the same position as us as well. They'll be wanting to prove a few points. It makes for a good game."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards rewinds to 1864 to mark the birth of Welsh rugby's first authentic star - Arthur Gould
Michael Cheika has succeeded in becoming the Wallabies coach under his own terms, writes Greg Growden
In the blink of an eye, a winger can go from a hero to villain. Hugh Godwin talks to Zac Guildford and David Strettle about life on the flank
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time