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'I stirred over it for 24 hours, 48 hours' - Roberts reveals 2013 Lions dilemma

By Ian Cameron
Jamie Roberts (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Two-time British and Irish Lions tourist Jamie Roberts has revealed how he had to hide the extent of an agonising injury leading into the decisive third Test of the tour of Australia in 2013.

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The blockbusting centre – who has been talking about that tour and his career at large in a new autobiography – Centre Stage – has been elaborating on the personal fitness gamble that could have backfired hideously for the team.

Roberts, who had suffered a hamstring injury against the Waratahs in the lead into the Test series, was forced to drop out of the first and second Test against the Wallabies.

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Then, when selected for the final game of the tour by Gatland, the 6’4, 110kg Welsh centre had to convince that the New Zealander that was fit enough to take to the field, despite the fact that he was in agony right up to the morning the game.

“It was a kind of moral dilemma I was faced with for that last Test,” Roberts told LionsRugby.com. “A very challenging few weeks, tearing my hamstring in that Waratahs game before the first Test.

“It’s a very difficult place to be in as a player because you’ve got a coach backing you, he has picked you to play. I remember Warren came up to me in training on the Thursday.

“He’s a man of few words but he just came up to me and said, “Right, you going to be fit?” I was like, “Yeah”, and then he walked off, when I was in actual pain, my hamstring was hurting.

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“Well, I remember waking up morning of the game thinking, geez, how am I going to play a Test match later today knowing I’m in quite a lot of pain in my hamstring.

“I had been picked to play, so on one hand, it’s the biggest game in your career. Your coach is backing you to play. He’s picked you, it’s a Lions Test-deciding match in Sydney.

“And on the other hand, I’m in quite a lot of pain in my hamstring, do I pull out, do I play on? If I come off after five minutes, it’s the most selfish decision ever and I really, really struggled.

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“I stirred over it for 24 hours, 48 hours. As I said, the morning of the game I was in quite a lot of pain, I remember going to see [physio] Prav [Mathema] and I was just like, “Mate, what is the strongest anti-inflammatory painkillers you can give me?”

“So after giving me that and adrenaline, fortunately, the hamstring held up and I was part of the decisive Lions-winning side in Sydney. To this day, that decision could have easily gone the other way, I could have pulled out of that match and not been a part of it.”

Ironically, had Roberts dropped out, it would likely have meant that Brian O’Driscoll, who had infamously been dropped for the game by Warren Gatland, would have likely have played at 13, with Jonathan Davies switching across to Robert’s 12 position, where he had played for the first two Tests.

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