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Leaving Cardiff Blues was toughest decision of my life - Roberts

Blues News | 29th May 2020


Jamie Roberts admits leaving Cardiff Blues in 2013 was one of the toughest decisions he’s had to make in his career to date.

Roberts was a guest on the debut episode of Cardiff Blues’ new Welsh language podcast, which was launched yesterday as part of an ongoing strategy to enhance the use of Welsh in various aspects of the business.

On the podcast, which is available on all major platforms, the former Wales centre chats about the public perception of his playing style, coming through the regional system and an impressive life CV, which has taken him to all four corners of the globe.

He also touched upon the difficult decision he made to depart his home region in 2013, joining French giants Racing 92, but admits he’s always wanted to make the most of what life throws at him.

“Leaving Cardiff Blues was one of the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my life. I grew up in Cardiff, played for the Blues for eight years and having also gone to university there as well, I’d never left the city,” said the former Arms Park favourite.

“Racing came in with an offer for me after Wales won the Grand Slam in 2012 and it was a very difficult decision to leave a club that gave me so much as a youngster.

“But I was growing up, and I told myself, if I was ever going to enjoy different experiences, now was the time to do it.

“I’d graduated, I was 26 years old and if I stayed in Cardiff there was a chance that I’d never leave the city and experience different cultures.

“I love to travel and having a taste of different experiences and places across the world, so it was a perfect opportunity.

“Living in a city like Paris, with a different language, a different culture and a completely different style of rugby. 

“It was an opportunity to challenge myself on a variety of levels of my life. I had a fantastic two years out there, both on the field and off it. 

“But yes, looking back it was one of the toughest decisions I’ve made.”

From being in the company of world famous celebrities at the Monaco Grand Prix to living on the amazing South African coastline in Cape Town, Roberts reveals the highlights of a pretty impressive life CV.

On the pitch, he’s played alongside iconic stars of his generation, representing Cardiff Blues, Wales, British & Irish Lions, Racing 92, Harelquins, Bath and Stormers.

However, when asked about the players he’s enjoyed linking up with over the years, Roberts admits they’ve all got individual attributes which made them special team-mates.

The former Glantaf pupil added: “It’s a tough one to answer, because each player brings something different to the game. 

“Boys like Stephen Jones and Rhys Priestland were great at playing flat and close to the gain line, and they had the ability and accuracy to throw those late passes if you’ve ran a nice angle.

“They created space for those around them with their ability to run straight and fix defenders.

“Tom Shanklin played a huge role in my development, there’s no doubt about that. He was the one who showed me the ropes when it came to playing in midfield.

“Casey Laulala came over to play for Cardiff Blues for a number of seasons and he was great at using his footwork. I came to know Casey very well and we’re still good friends today.

“If you track Casey Laulala on his inside, then you know the offload is going to be there 90 per cent of the time. He was able to use his feet but was also able to always look to offload.

“I played with Jonathan Davies, who I felt I had a really good partnership with. It was easy to play with Jon.

“He started in 2009 with Wales and over the next three or four years he had made huge progress in the centre, and he’s still an important player for Wales today.

“The main thing I noticed when playing with Brian O’Driscoll was the way he communicated on the pitch.

“He’d make the correct decision pretty much 100 per cent of the time, but managed to communicate and make the game simple, and I certainly learnt a lot from that.

“You learn about how to read the game, making the correct calls at the correct times, and that will come with experience. When you’re young, there might be tendency to panic or get stressed about making those calls.

“There is pressure on you as a youngster. You are playing alongside experienced players who expect the highest standards, like Gethin Jenkins and Martyn Williams. The pressure was there to match those standards and play at the level they expect.

“When I look at boys that I played with and learnt from - like Nicky Robinson, Richie Rees and Jason Spice - they were experienced when I broke onto the scene, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to play with those boys.”

All episodes of the Cardiff Blues Podcast, including the debut episode of the Welsh language Podcast, are available now on all major platforms.