Roberts backs Wales to kick on
March 17, 2013
Jamie Roberts produced arguably his best performance of this year's Six Nations in the title showdown with England on Saturday © PA Photos
Wales centre Jamie Roberts has warned the rest of the rugby world that there is more to come from the Six Nations champions.
Roberts played a pivotal role in Wales' stunning 30-3 triumph over England at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday that not only ensured a successful defence of their crown - a feat they last achieved in 1979 - but also shattered the visitors' hopes of a first Grand Slam in a decade.
Wales fourth Six Nations title in nine years was also secured with a record winning margin against England but Roberts is confident they can improve yet further. "I think there is more to come - that's the scary thing," he told PA Sport. "Our defence is outstanding, there is more to come in attack, and competition for places is very good in the squad. That is what drives us forward as a team.
"When you have got competition like that, you are on your toes and you are only ever a game away from being dropped. That is what drives us forward more than anything - that competitive edge. You don't win championships with 23 players, you win it with 35.
"Guys like (lock) Andrew Coombs, who would be disappointed after losing his starting place after the first few games, have been magnificent in this tournament. It's guys like that who win championships, guys who are maybe holding the tackle pads in training and put in the hard work when they're not in the starting XV."
If Wales had not made a slow start to their opener against Ireland - a game they eventually lost 30-22 - they would be celebrating back-to-back Grand Slams but Roberts hinted that their recovery this year brought more joy than last season's clean sweep.
"Chatting to a few of the boys, if anything it's a better feeling than last year," Roberts added. "From where we've come from in that first half of the Irish game to winning on the road - three on the bounce - and finally delivering at the Millennium Stadium, it's very pleasing.
"We took a bit of a beating from a lot of people after that Ireland game, and certainly the run of results (eight successive defeats) leading up to that. It was a very hard place to be. But it just goes to show the resilience of the boys. Rugby is 90% attitude, and the resilience the boys have shown during the last six or seven weeks has come to the fore.
"To concede just three points against a team of England's potency is very, very good for us and a tap on the back to Shaun Edwards.
"From a personal point of view it's been an absolute privilege to work with him. He's a great character, he knows his stuff inside and out, and to learn from someone of his calibre is up there with one of my greatest experiences as a rugby player. To see him smiling at the end was very pleasing. It's a better buzz than last year, if anything, because our games have been built on solid grunt and attitude."
The victory capped a testing week for Roberts who sat two important exams as part of his medical finals just days before the title showdown. "Yes, it's been difficult and there is a lot of pressure," he said. "But I made sure I worked hard enough three months ago. I sat down then, had a word with myself and knew I had to do hard work back then.
"It's not about turning up two weeks before the exams and working hard. It's about putting that work in place so that come the Six Nations I was just topping up my knowledge. The exams were pretty tough - I don't think they were meant to be easy - but hopefully I've managed to combine the two, and if I pass I will be a very proud person. It's just a big thanks to the medical school for helping me through it, and to (Wales interim head coach) Rob Howley and the Welsh Rugby Union as well."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Top 14, Super Rugby and the Aviva Premiership with fireworks and monsters both featuring
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14