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Roberts targets early return to action
Scrum.com
December 19, 2008
Wales centre Jamie Roberts is tackled by Dan Carter (l) and Richie McCaw during the Invesco Perpetual Series match between Wales and New Zealand All Blacks at the Millennium Stadium on November 22, 2008, in Cardiff, Wales.
Wales centre Jamie Roberts is hoping to return to action in time to reclaim his position in the side for the Six Nations © Getty Images
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Cardiff Blues and Wales centre Jamie Roberts is predicting an early return to action following a successful start to his recovery from a fractured skull. Roberts, 22, sustained the injury a sickening collision with Australia skipper Stirling Mortlock during Wales 21-18 win in November.

"I started back in training on Monday, just doing light stuff," he told The Western Mail. "I can't put any strain on the injury, so I can't lift any heavy weights, but I can do fitness work and light weights to keep the muscles ticking over.

"I'm seeing a specialist at the end of December and then fingers crossed I'll be back playing in the middle of January, which is six weeks after the injury. That's the usual time for a fracture to heal and this is no different really.

Roberts is targeting the Blues' next Heineken Cup fixtures against Gloucester and Calvisano as a possible return, giving a boost to Dai Young's side's hopes of a quarter-final berth and also putting himself back into contention for Wales' Six Nations defence.

"We've got Gloucester on January 18 and Calvisano the week after, which are two massive games which I'd love to be involved in. I just can't wait," he said. "Hopefully by the end of next week I'll be back up there fitness wise and just looking to add the muscle and strength which I've lost. I've just got to knuckle down in training and get myself in the frame."

Having made his Wales debut on the wing against Scotland in the 2008 Six Nations, Roberts started all of Wales' autumn internationals in the centre and will be hoping to be in the reckoning come Warren Gatland's selection for the 2009 tournament.

"I know I'm going to have my work cut out to get back into the team," said medical student Roberts. "No-one takes their shirt for granted. Yes, I was the last person to start in the jersey, but Andrew Bishop played very well when he came on against the Aussies, while Gavin Henson is back fit now, so it all adds to the competition in the centre.

"I've got no divine right to wear the jersey. There are going to be guys playing well over Christmas and pushing forward their cause. I've got to get back into it and prove myself before the Six Nations."

Roberts' fellow Blues centre Tom Shanklin has also uttered some words of warning to his Wales team-mates ahead of the Six Nations, telling them to expect added pressure as the champions.

"You ask a lot of players who have been around for a while and the World Cup was one of the lowest points of their careers," Shanklin told The Western Mail, reflecting on his second Grand Slam triumph after 2005. "We went into the Six Nations probably as favourites to win the wooden spoon, along with Italy. To then turn it all around and win a Grand Slam was absolutely brilliant.

"But now this time we are more likely to be the favourites, having won it last season and been the best team in the northern hemisphere in the autumn internationals. We are going to go into it with probably a bit more pressure and a bit more expectation. "It's going to be a little bit of a different atmosphere.

"The expectation is going to be a lot higher. That means our standards from last year have got to be raised again. We are going to have to train that bit harder and we are going to have to really want it. But it's a good place to be."

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