Jamie Roberts: Wales aim to develop strength in depth

Jamie Roberts
Jamie Roberts joined Harlequins from French side Racing 92 in 2015
Wales v Tonga
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland Date: 16 June Kick-off: 06:30 BST
Coverage: Live on S4C. Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru online, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV (UK only).

Captain Jamie Roberts says Wales' two-Test tour is crucial in developing strength in depth.

Wales' team to face Tonga in Auckland on Saturday will feature three players winning their first caps and another six uncapped players on the bench.

Harlequins centre Roberts, 30, has described Robin McBryde's squad as "an exciting group".

"Robin McBryde has alluded to the fact it's not a development tour and it's wrong to give it that tag," he said.

"We're obviously aiming to developing strength in depth across a lot of positions in Test rugby.

"Come the World Cup in two years' time, if we can get two or three quality Test level players in every position then that's the goal for everyone.

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"And on this tour I'm sure there will be players who will be competing for that in years to come or maybe six years' time.

"But it's about the here and now and it's about playing in a Test match."

Roberts will captain his country for the first time on his 95th appearance in Friday's Test at Eden Park. He is Wales' most experienced player on a tour which is without 12 players on British and Irish Lions duty.

But the former Cardiff Blues player has been reminded of his first tour with Wales' senior side as a 20-year-old in South Africa in 2008.

"I've enjoyed the company of a lot of the younger lads," Roberts told BBC Wales Sport.

"The energy and the enthusiasm of youth kind of infects you and makes you feel young again, certainly not in body but in mind.

"It's been really refreshing and it's been good fun. A lot of the younger lads are in their first couple of years as professional rugby players.

"To be on tour away with Wales you kind of get a bit of a throwback to when I first toured in 2008 and remembering the emotions of then, and respecting the fact that the senior players back then were brilliant with me as a young player.

Jamie Roberts in action against South Africa in 2008
Jamie Roberts in action against South Africa in 2008

"It's about giving back then and making sure all these young lads are enjoying the tour and enjoying representing their country, and enjoying buying into what we're about and touring.

"To be the other side of the world and playing for your country is pretty special.

"The lads know that and we have two great opportunities to win two games."

Wales face Samoa in their second game of the two-Test tour in Apia on Friday, 23 June.

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