Rugby Union


Wales centre Jamie Roberts in contention to face All Blacks

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Jamie Roberts could be in the frame for a Test match recall when Wales tackle world champions New Zealand on Saturday.

The 31-year-old Harlequins centre, who has won 93 caps, was a surprise omission from Wales’ original autumn squad.

But he then gained a call-up as injury cover after Jonathan Davies suffered a foot problem during the defeat against Australia and will be sidelined long term.

With Gloucester’s Owen Williams appearing nailed-on to wear the number 12 shirt at the weekend, it might be that Roberts wins head coach Warren Gatland’s vote alongside him.

“Jamie could obviously come into the equation,” Wales assistant coach and defence specialist Shaun Edwards said on Tuesday. “There is three or four to pick from there.

“Gats will evaluate it and come up with what he thinks is the best option.

“If Jamie plays, he would probably defend at 12 and we would swap them round in attack. That would be the plan if Jamie started or if he came on at half-time.

“I think it’s a lot to ask Jamie to defend at 13. He’s such a big man, a huge man. And it would be nice to see him and Sonny Bill (Williams) having a collision as well.”

Harlequins v Worcester Warriors - Anglo-Welsh Cup

Wales have lost a second British and Irish Lion through injury, with Saracens back Liam Williams being released from the squad due to an abdominal injury suffered during last Saturday’s 13-6 victory over Georgia.

Both Williams and Davies were star performers of the Lions’ New Zealand tour earlier this year. And in another injury setback, Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert is sidelined by a calf muscle problem.

“It doesn’t come easy for us, does it?” Edwards added. “As we always say, we just get on with it, and it’s the next guy up on the roster.”

With Williams out, it is likely that Leigh Halfpenny will be joined in the back-three by wings Hallam Amos and Steff Evans.


Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953, losing 29 successive Tests against them, and Edwards knows another major test awaits, especially defensively opposite an All Blacks back division containing the likes of Beauden Barrett and Sonny Bill Williams.

“Let’s be honest, I have got a pretty tough job this week, probably one of the toughest jobs in world sport to be the defence coach against the All Blacks,” he said.

“But you know me, I am up for a challenge, and hopefully on Saturday we can put pressure on through our line speed, but there is a lot more to defending than just having line speed. There are a lot of different aspects to it.


“One of them is what Scotland did very well (against New Zealand on Saturday). They held the ball for 60 per cent of the time. They had 60 per cent territory and 60 per cent possession.

“If we can do that, I will be very happy. Even though the All Blacks only had 40 per cent possession, they still scored three tries and were still very dangerous, but obviously starving them of the ball is one way of keeping their attack quiet.

“It’s not a boring week for me, put it that way! It’s a busy one for me covering all their threats, and they’ve (also) been together for four months, which helps them.”

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