British and Irish Lions: Jamie Roberts praises Lions 'rock' Jonathan Davies

Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies
Jamie Roberts (left) who played along-side Jonathan Davies for the Lions in Australia in 2013 believes his Wales teammate will prove a massive presence in the Test decider in New Zealand

Jamie Roberts has praised the British and Irish Lions centre "rock" Jonathan Davies as the tourists aim for a Test series victory in New Zealand.

Davies, 29, will start his sixth successive Lions Test in the series decider against the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday.

The centre also played in three Test matches against Australia four years ago when the tourist won 2-1.

"He has been a rock in that backline," said Roberts, a 2009 and 2013 Lion.

Roberts and Davies featured together in the decisive third Test victory over Australia in 2013, and have started 47 matches together for Wales.

"He has been the outstanding outside centre in Britain over the last four years and has come of age," said 30-year-old Roberts.

"He has shown in the Test matches how good a player he is. He has a great hand-off and has been superb defensively."

Constant centre

The Lions changed their midfield after the first Test defeat in Auckland, with Owen Farrell's creativity preferred to the more direct approach of Ben Te'o at inside centre.

The back three selection has also been discussed widely before the Lions settled on Liam Williams at full-back, with Elliot Daly and Anthony Watson on each wing.

Jonathan Davies and Jamie Roberts
The Welsh centre pairing helped the Lions to a Third Test win over Australia in 2013

But Roberts believes Davies has been the one constant, just as he was in Australia four years ago when he started the first two Tests with Brian O'Driscoll before linking up with Roberts for the final game.

"There has been a lot of debate around the 10/12 position and the back three," said Roberts.

"But Jon has set his stall out at 13 after getting concussed in the first game. Since then he has been outstanding."

Memorable milestones

Davies is not the only Welsh player to achieve a notable milestone on this Lions tour.

Second-row Alun-Wyn Jones will also become the first player to feature in every Test on three consecutive Lions tours since the game turned professional in 1995.

"They are both very special," said Roberts, who has three Lions Test appearances and 93 caps for Wales.

"For us as players the Lions is an amazing achievement in our careers.

"I am sure those guys won't be celebrating those achievements too hard ahead of Saturday or before the end of their careers when they look back and reflect.

"They are two very humble guys who work very hard at their jobs.

"Alun-Wyn is a magnificent player and a real leader. Nobody is more deserving of a start on Saturday."

Roberts believes a Lions Test series victory over New Zealand would be an "incredible" achievement.

Warren Gatland's side took the series to a deciding Test by beating the All Blacks in Wellington last Saturday, and another victory will make them the first Lions side to win a series in New Zealand since 1971.

But the All Blacks have not lost twice in a row at home since 1998 and have not been beaten at Eden Park since France won in 23 years ago.

Alun Wyn Jones and Jamie Roberts
Jamie Roberts believes former Lions teammate, Alun Wyn Jones is a born leader

"If they do win it will be one of the greatest Lions achievements ever, but there won't be too much talk of that in camp," added Roberts.

"It's a similar position to four years ago although the sequence on Test wins has changed.

"Everyone knows how big the game is, it's all about staying focused.

"You have to try and eliminate the occasion and the crowd and focus on 80 minutes of a brutal Test match. And it will be brutal.

"They are playing the All Blacks at Eden Park and they know how big a challenge that is with no team winning there in a long time."

Resilience and courage

Roberts says the Lions have shown they have the character to triumph.

"It's going to be a huge test of resilience and that's what I have admired about this Lions side," said Roberts.

"In that second Test when the penalty count was coming against them hard, they played some shots in attack, showed some courage and scored some good tries. It was magnificent.

"Knowing when to pull the trigger and choosing to attack has been the cornerstone of their success.

"In the pressure games they have been magnificent. Their defence has been great.

"If they can maintain this and take some risks in attack hopefully we can see another win on Saturday."

Top Stories