CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Experienced centre Jamie Roberts says he has joined South African side the Stormers to win Super Rugby, but adds he has not given up hope of a return to the Welsh national team in the coming months.
Roberts, 33, was unveiled by the Cape Town-based team on Thursday and revealed the challenge of playing in Super Rugby was one he felt he could not turn down at this stage of his career.
“I want to win Super Rugby, that’s why I have come here,” he told reporters. “I just want to contribute to the team and bring my strengths. It is about doing what I do well.
“Super Rugby is different to Northern Hemisphere rugby, it’s quicker, you see a lot more passing and it’s a more open game.
“I am looking forward to playing like that, a lot of the rugby we play back home is in the rain and on heavy pitches. That was the immediate different here, how fast the track (pitch) is and how hot it is.”
Roberts won the last of his 94 international caps against New Zealand in November 2017, but holds out the hope of wearing the national team colours again under new Wales coach Wayne Pivac.
“If that call comes I will have a chat with (Stormers coach) John (Dobson). I am hugely proud to have played for Wales the times I have, as players you have to aim for international honours,” he said.
“It has been a huge motivating factor for me in my career. I last played for Wales two-and-a-half years ago, so whether that opportunity comes my way... I’m not sure.”
Roberts concedes he will have to bring himself up to speed with Super Rugby, but is relishing the opportunity to learn different skills in what will be a new environment.
“I have to adapt my game to be successful here and that is something I have been speaking the coaches about. To add different strengths to my game,” he said.
“Back home maybe that pressure is not on you to add different skills because that is the way the game is played. But here I am going to have to.”
Roberts said the chance to play in South Africa was also a big factor in his decision to leave English Premiership side Bath.
“Having toured this country the best part of 10 times in my career, every time it has been the best rugby experience. It feels like I am coming to play my part in an amazing rugby country,” he added.
The Stormers open their Super Rugby campaign at home against the Wellington Hurricanes from New Zealand on Feb. 1.
Editing by Christian Radnedge