Irish ponder added polish to Roberts' play

(Rugby News Service) Wednesday 5 October 2011
Irish ponder added polish to Roberts' play
Wales centre Jamie Roberts has added polish to his play

WELLINGTON, 6 Oct. - Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll has noticed some "really nice subtleties" to the way 110kg Wales inside centre Jamie Roberts goes about laying waste to anyone in his path.

The Ireland captain was Roberts' outside centre partner on the British and Irish Lions' tour of South Africa in 2009 and as an opponent as recently as March this year is well placed to comment on the 24-year-old's development.

The two will be midfield rivals when Ireland play Wales in their Rugby World Cup 2011 quarter-final at Wellington Regional Stadium on Saturday and O'Driscoll suggested Roberts had added a touch of polish to his physical game.

"I think he's developed his game really well. He's brought in some really nice subtleties to it,"  O'Driscoll said at the announcement of Ireland's team for Saturday's match.

"So he's got some good skills and he's not afraid of mixing that up and that makes players more difficult to read, so he's evolved as a player on that front."

However subtlety will only take you so far on a rugby field and when you're 1.93m tall and 110kg it seems a waste not to use that asset.

"One aspect of his game that hasn't changed is his ability to carry the ball in contact and make gain lines. Teams play off go-forward ball and he's one of their go-to guys for that," said O'Driscoll.

Ireland full back Rob Kearney is anything but subtle in recommending the best method of stopping Roberts.

"The key to his game is he just runs hard and direct, and you just have to hit him hard and direct and stop him.  There's no huge science to stopping a direct runner, you just need to hit him."

Or, as Springbok assistant coach Dick Muir said, when asked the best way of stopping Samoan wing Alesana Tuilagi in their pool match at RWC 2011: "A sniper on the roof would be good."

RNS pr/rg