Jamie Roberts: Harlequins and Wales centre still has Lions ambitions

Jamie Roberts in action for Harlequins against Newcastle Falcons
Jamie Roberts joined Harlequins from Racing 92 in May 2015

Jamie Roberts still hopes to impress British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland having failed to start at all for Wales in the 2017 Six Nations.

The Harlequins centre, 30, was man of the series in South Africa in 2009 and also played against Australia in 2013.

Roberts admits he has to perform well for Quins against Saracens and Exeter before Gatland names his party to tour New Zealand this summer on 19 April.

"I know the next few weeks are probably on a personal note quite big," he said.

"I haven't played too much in the Six Nations so I need to perform well over the next few games for my club and see what happens.

"The two tours I've been on have played a huge part in my life and was a massively enjoyable thing to do.

"It's the pinnacle of rugby for us and it's an absolute privilege to go on tour with the Lions.

"But I suppose that selection first and foremost is out of your hands and it takes care of itself with your performances that season on the pitch."

'Hungrier than ever'

Roberts has made 91 appearances for Wales, but was on the bench for all of their 2017 Six Nations matches.

He played a total of 107 minutes during the tournament, including the extraordinary 20 minutes of additional time in the 20-18 defeat by France in Paris.

Jamie Roberts bursts through on his way to scoring a try for the Lions against Australia in 2013
Jamie Roberts scored a try for the Lions in their third Test win over Australia in 2013

"Collectively, to finish fifth was disappointing," he told BBC Wales Sport.

"We played some great rugby but over the course of five bouts of 80 minutes - or 100 minutes in Paris - we weren't good enough to be at the top of the table.

"It was disappointing being on the bench for Wales for the last Six Nations campaign but, if anything, that's made me hungrier than ever to achieve.

"But I've learned a lot from it and it's important that I learn from that and go again."

Wembley privilege

That starts with an English Premiership fixture at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, 8 April, when Harlequins play third-placed Saracens.

Roberts was in outstanding form when Quins - currently sixth in the table - beat Sarries 17-10 at The Stoop in October 2016 in front of 14,800 fans.

More than 60,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday's meeting, with Roberts relishing the occasion.

Jamie Roberts scores a decisive try for Wales against Ireland in the 2017 Six Nations Championship
Jamie Roberts scored a decisive try against Ireland during the 2017 Six Nations after starting on the bench

"Playing Saracens at Wembley, it doesn't get much bigger than that for us in the Premiership," he said.

"We're fighting for a top four slot - I think those top three are quite far ahead of the rest but that fourth place spot is up for grabs between about three or four teams.

"The opportunity to play at Wembley is a huge privilege in itself. It's a wonderful stadium obviously and the history of the place speaks for itself - it's a huge game."

One more season at 'Quins

Roberts has another season to run on his contract at Harlequins, and says he has no firm plans about his future beyond that deal.

"I know I'm here next year and I've always told myself I'll make that decision in November," he said.

"As a professional rugby player I think it's quite unwise to make these decisions too early because circumstances can change pretty quickly in the game.

"It's not a decision that will even enter my head until next season, whether that's to stay in London or move elsewhere, so I'm just going to enjoy the moment, enjoy the current situation and as I said I'll cross that bridge come November or December."

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