Top 14 giants target Roberts
January 9, 2012
Jamie Roberts shone for Wales during the 2011 World Cup © Getty Images
Cardiff Blues centre Jamie Roberts is the latest player to be linked with a move to the Top 14 Orange.
With Luke Charteris and Adam Jones pondering moves across the channel, Roberts is reportedly courting the interest of Top 14 giants Toulouse. Former Ospreys trio James Hook, Mike Phillips and Lee Byrne are already plying their trade in France and with Wales boss Warren Gatland keen to pick players turning out in the RaboDirect PRO12 rather than overseas, he will hope Roberts stays in Cardiff.
And while Roberts is tied to the Blues until the end of next season, reports in the Western Mail claim Toulouse would be willing to spend £200,000 on buying out the last year of his contract. Blues chairman Peter Thomas is aware of Toulouse's interest and is resigned to the fact that they could not compete financially.
"I have heard the rumours and it is a major concern," said Thomas. "Jamie is still under contract for another season. But you know the kind of money that James Hook and Mike Phillips went for.
"When you look at the French clubs and the facilities afforded them by playing in municipal stadiums at virtually no cost, you realise they do have a massive advantage over us. Frankly, no region in Wales can even consider that."
However, Roberts' representatives Big Red Management claimed on their Twitter page on Monday that the rumours of Toulouse's interest in the Welsh centre was unfounded. They said: "No truth in rumour about @Jamiehuwroberts & Toulouse. Nice & juicy though. Maybe add to the story that McCaw & Carter are off to Ponty!"
With Gethin Jenkins reportedly on the verge of agreeing a deal to join Bath for next season, the Blues face another battle to keep hold of one of their star players with Casey Laulala also attracting interest from France. But one player who is keen to remain in Wales is Jonathan Davies who is chasing a long-term deal with the Scarlets.
"It is a great place to be and hopefully I will be able to stay because it is a good place at the moment," Davies said. "It is great being part of the Scarlets squad at the moment.
"The talent and ability we have got here means it is a fantastic place to be. It has been a couple of years in progress, but now this is the time for this group of players to deliver for the fans."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker
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
Red cards, uncontested scrums, end-of-season wobbles and schoolboy errors - the Monday Maul looks back over the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures includes puffed players, dismissed players and training in the snow