Lions 2013: Jamie Roberts hails 'life-changing' experience

Jamie Roberts in action for the Lions in 2009.

Jamie Roberts says playing for the British and Irish Lions in 2009 changed his life.

And the Wales and Cardiff Blues centre has called on his team-mates on this summer's tour to "soak up" the experience of touring.

Roberts, 26, was one of named in Warren Gatland's squad to tour Australia this summer.

"It's a privilege, it's an honour, it's amazing to be a part of. The last tour changed my life really," he said.

Roberts was one of the major successes of the 2009 tour of South Africa, making a big impact in the first two Test matches in partnership with Brian O'Driscoll.

He was an international rookie with only 12 caps to his name when the Lions met the Springboks in a fiercely contested three-Test series, won 2-1 by the home side.

The Welshman was voted Player of the Series and said playing alongside stars like the Irishman was one of a major benefits of a Lions place.

"It's so unique," said Roberts, who has now won 53 caps for Wales.

"It's the chance to play with players who you'll never get a chance to play with again. To play alongside players of the calibre of some of the players around you, not just from the Welsh side but from other countries as well, is an incredible experience.

"In 2009 I got the chance to play alongside some amazing players and a lot of what I do now in rugby I learned on that tour.

"I learnt a hell of a lot and you gain a hell of a lot from it as well. And it's a tour that goes very quickly and you have to soak it in, enjoy every minute, and I'm sure all us Welsh boys will."

Roberts, who will leave Cardiff Blues at the end of the season to join Racing Metro in France, also paid tribute to the role of the Welsh regions in developing the players who have made the Lions squad.

"I think huge credit has to be paid to the Welsh set-up and first and foremost the regional set-up," he said.

"These boys have obviously come through the academies here in Wales and played for their regions.

"Look at the rise of someone like Alex [Cuthbert] with the Blues - it's incredible that he's done that in a couple of seasons."

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