Wales v Australia, Millennium Stadium
Roberts: Time for youngsters to step up
December 3, 2011
Jamie Roberts pays tribute to Shane Williams © Getty Images
Welsh centre Jamie Roberts has called on the next generation to emulate Shane Williams' success and step into the void left by the winger.
Williams will line up in a Wales shirt for the last time on Saturday against the Wallabies and Roberts believes now is the time for the youngsters to realise their potential and help fill the void left by the 86-cap speedster. With Wales facing the Wallabies four times in the next seven months, Roberts is eyeing a victory on Saturday at the Millennium Stadium and has called on the younger members of the squad to shine.
"We know we are not going to achieve it without working hard," he told Wales Online. "That started last week when we met up in preparation for this game.
"It is scary to think I am the second oldest back at 25 behind Shane, but it is also great at the same time. The future of Welsh rugby is now with these youngsters and it is brilliant to be part of that.
"This will be a great match to win but we are under no illusions it is going to be very tough to do that. They beat us in the World Cup and although they have a few injuries in some key positions, they are a very talented side that can cause a huge amount of problems if you are not on the money. But you have to always think it could be your last game in a Wales shirt so you always have to make sure you give everything and make the most of it."
And Roberts has given his praise to Williams as the 34-year-old prepares to end his 11-year Test career but has emphasised the need to keep emotions in check. "It won't be hard to focus on the game," he said. "Obviously that will be in the back of people's minds and it will be an emotional day for Shane.
"But it is no different to any other Test match. It's a massive battle, a huge war as such, and we need to give it our all on Saturday. As a player, it is an absolute honour to say I would have played in Shane's last game with him.
"Hopefully he can go out on a high and we can get the result. He is a player who has inspired so many. I can't imagine how many kids have picked up a rugby ball because of Shane Williams, not only in Wales but around the world.
"He is an inspiration to everyone who plays rugby and he is one of the most exciting players the world has had the privilege to see in the last century, let alone decade. It will be a sad day but one where a lot of fans can pay their respects to a genius of the game."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
Ask John answers questions on the Leopards' tour to Italy in 1974, brotherly Test sides, Pat McGrath, England's games against the Barbarians and Jacques Brunel
"We were only five metres away in the last Test of getting that try and with Jonny's inevitable conversion, we'd have won it." Tom Hamilton talks to Lions fullback Matt Perry