Roberts backs appointment of Howley as Wales head coach

Jamie Roberts
Jamie Roberts is backing Rob Howley to succeed as caretaker Wales coach.

Wales centre Jamie Roberts has lent his support to Rob Howley after he was confirmed in a four-game caretaker coaching role.

Howley will lead Wales for the three-Test tour of Australia and the summer international against the Barbarians.

"Rob commands respect off all the players," said Roberts.

"It's an opportunity for Rob and the guys with Wales to really make their mark and show they can take charge of a team."

Gatland is recovering in New Zealand from a recent fall when he fractured both heels.

And Roberts, who has targeted an October return following knee ligament surgery, believes Howley has the necessary qualities to be a success during his caretaker reign.

"He's played at the highest level, he's very meticulous in his planning and he gets on very well with the guys," said Roberts, who is six caps short of his half-century for Wales.

"He's a very good coach, a very clever coach and has done wonders with the Welsh backs over the last couple of years.

"Certainly I've found my game has improved massively under Rob and I'm sure all the backs would agree."

Indeed Howley could continue in his temporary role beyond the summer if, as expected, Gatland is chosen to coach the 2013 British and Irish Lions' tour to Australia.

"I suppose if he (Gatland) did get the Lions job he wouldn't coach Wales too much next season," added Roberts.

"For him (Howley) to be head coach, I'm sure he'll be very proud of that and as I say, it's a great opportunity for him."

Roberts is equally positive about the future of Cardiff Blues next season, despite the region suffering amid a backdrop of dwindling finances and player departures.

Twelve of the senior squad, including Wales prop Gethin Jenkins and Wales scrum-half Richie Rees, are leaving the region and there are fears they will also lose new Wales wing sensation Alex Cuthbert.

"Seeing as there's a lot of players leaving there will be a big change in the culture within the squad," said Roberts, who made his debut for Blues in 2007.

"It's important we all sit down and knock our heads together and create an environment where players are thrilling, developing and enjoying their rugby and we start winning games more importantly.

"There's always bigger scope for us to embrace the region as a whole, try to attract fans and market the game better in the Blues region.

"We just all need to take big steps forward.

"As players, coaches, backroom staff and certainly the guys behind the scenes at the Blues, it's important we drive the region forward because it's got potential to be a very successful one."

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