Jamie Roberts claims being Wales based is not crucial issue

Wales centre Jamie Roberts
Wales centre Jamie Roberts

Racing Metro centre Jamie Roberts says Wales does not need to have its international players based at home.

Welsh rugby has been hit by an exodus of players leaving for clubs in France and England in recent years.

Paris-based Roberts claims if players have clauses in their contracts to allow them to train and play for Wales, it does not matter where they play.

"It doesn't make any difference whatsoever," said 27-year-old Wales international Roberts.

Roberts, a summer signing from Cardiff Blues, negotiated a clause in his contract with Racing to allow him to be released for Wales squad training and internationals.

He says more Welsh players are doing the same to guarantee that they are available to train and play for their country.

"As any Welsh player playing in Wales, the participation agreement allows players that full two weeks release prior to the Six Nations and the autumn," said Roberts.

"Players playing in France... we arrive at training on that same Monday as the Welsh [based] players."

Lions captain Sam Warburton is the latest Welsh player being lined with a move away from Wales at the end of the 2013-14 campaign.

Wing George North joined Northampton before the start of this season, while Lions lock Ian Evans has signed for French club Toulon.

Clermont Auvergne have recruited Scarlets, Wales and Lions centre Jonathan Davies from 2014-15.

Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate, Mike Phillips and James Hook play for clubs in France while Paul James and Craig Mitchell are in England.

Roberts admits more Welsh players will be attracted by the chance to play rugby in France, although he also agreed with former Wales captain Ryan Jones that the exodus had the potential to leave "a scar on the domestic game which will take a while to heal".

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"If these guys are leaving, they [young fans] haven't got those top-class role models to look up to," Roberts said.

"That's one thing which does worry me - you lose a generation of top international players if they all head overseas which takes three, four, five years to heal, but, there we are, that's the way it is."

He also agreed with Ryan Jones that a British league was appealing, and said a lot more players would be thinking about moving abroad.

"Inevitable is not the right word, but there is a possibility of it.

"Ultimately, it's up to each and every individual player to do what they see is best for their career, and what they want to do.

"A lot come over here [France] to come and play, to play in a fantastic league, to play a great quality of rugby in France.

"They have made themselves fully available for international selection and, from my perspective, I am very happy I made the move.

"I am sure there will be a lot of other players seriously contemplating it.

"C'est la vie, it's the way professional sport is and the way professional sport always has been."

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