Gatland rules out Roberts switch
October 30, 2009
Jamie Roberts will not be shifting to fullback © Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland will not switch Jamie Roberts to fullback for their November series. Roberts, who has been moulded in to a centre by Gatland after coming to prominence on the wing and at fullback for Cardiff, is one of a number of players able to cover for the injured Lee Byrne.
After the impact Roberts made from No.12 in the colours of the British & Irish Lions during the summer however, Gatland insists that he will not be shifted in to the back-three. Roberts has one international cap at fullback, on tour to South Africa in 2008.
"When I first saw Jamie train, he had been playing on the wing for Cardiff, and I said to Rob Howley (Wales assistant coach) I thought he was a midfielder," said Gatland. "He caused a huge amount of problems for the South Africans over in South Africa for the Lions, and I think potentially he could be one of the best centres in the world, going forward.
"I think he has found his spot. He is only going to get better as a 12 - the more he plays there, the more experience he gets. You can see him aged 25 or 26, with a number of caps under his belt, being one of the best players in the world."
Gatland's answer points to either Leigh Halfpenny or James Hook switching to No.15, with the players offering different styles. Wales face the All Blacks on November followed by meetings with Samoa, Argentina and Australia.
Hook's kicking game could see him shifted from his usual berths at fly-half or centre, while Halfpenny offers lightning pace.
"We've got some options at fullback with Leigh, and perhaps James Hook," Gatland said. "We've been talking about someone like James, with the talent he has as a player, to find somewhere on the field for him to play. As a footballer, we all know what quality James brings to a game of rugby, and it maybe on these few occasions that we do play him at full-back. We are going to see how training goes."